Along with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has had several teams contact him for head coaching interviews.
The San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Rams have already asked for permission to speak with Patricia, while the Jaguars also expect to contact him as well.
Chargers Tap Matt
Patricia was the first coaching candidate the Chargers have reached out too. After recently firing an offensive-minded coach Mike McCoy, Patricia could offer a change in philosophy. The Patriots defense, led by Patricia, finished the regular season allowing the least amount of points in the league. The Chargers however, allowed 423 points, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL.
Rams Long List Includes Pats Package
The Rams have contacted Patricia along with McDaniels. They will also speak to the Falcons’ Kyle Shanahan, Jacksonville’s Doug Marone, Buffalo’s Anthony Lynn, Carolina’s Steve Wilks, Miami’s Vance Joseph and Washington’s Sean McVay. Los Angeles expects to contact New Orleans about a potential trade for Sean Payton.
Patricia’s name also surfaces when discussing the Detroit Lions. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweeted that the Lions could look to move on from Jim Caldwell if they missed the playoffs. Detroit ended up getting the sixth seed in the NFC thanks to a Washington loss.
Lions GM Bob Quinn worked with the Patriots from 2000-2015, reaching the position of Director of Pro Scouting. If he feels Caldwell isn’t the guy to get Detroit over the hump in the NFC, he could look at Patricia or maybe even McDaniels.
Life After Patricia
As for replacing Patricia, the Patriots could look internally or outside of the organization. Names like Steve Belichick, Mike Vrabel, Greg Schiano and the top candidate Brian Flores have all been mentioned.
Steve Belichick, son of head coach Bill Belichick, is currently in his first season as a safeties coach for New England. Before this year, he spent four seasons as a coaching assistant. Steve has done a excellent job with the safeties this year and could transition into an up-and-coming defensive coordinator.
Brian Flores is in the middle of his ninth season as a Patriots coach and his first as the linebacker coach. He recently coached safeties for four seasons, and also took on the roles of defensive assistant, offensive assistant/special teams coach along with four seasons with the Patriots personnel department. He would be the leader in the defensive clubhouse with Patricia gone and the most likely candidate for the job.
Schiano and Vrabel both have connections to the Patriots team and coaching staff. Schiano has often been spotted with Belichick at training camp practices and during the NFL Scouting Combine. Vrabel spent eight seasons with New England as a linebacker, recording more than 400 tackles and catching 10 touchdowns. He currently works with the Houston Texans as a linebacker coach, but could look for an upgrade. Vrabel turned down the San Fransisco 49ers offer last season, but if New England called he would most certainly listen.
Current Patriot safety Devin McCourty and linebacker Dont’a Hightower both had positive things to say about the possibility of Patricia coaching.
“I would just say for us he’s been great,” said McCourty of Patricia on Wednesday during his press conference. “I don’t know anything about what it will be or how, but I think for us as players getting the opportunity to play under him has been great. Just his energy, his drive to be perfect, to get everything right for us. I think how much he cares about the defense and about the guys in that room I think (he) really gets guys going and you have a great appreciation for what he’s doing and what he’s trying to do.” Patricia was a hot name at this time last year, impressing teams like Cleveland in interviews. But he returned to the Patriots for another season. When asked about interviewing with other teams, Patricia said he was “focused on the team and moving forward.”
“Matty P. has definitely helped,” Patriots Pro Bowl linebacker Dont’a Hightower said Thursday. “He was one of the guys who helped bring me up. Besides Mayo and Pat Graham and Pep [Pepper Johnson], Matty P. was one of the guys who helped me move along at an accelerated pace, we’ll say that, as far as him working with me and getting me to understand the defense and what he really wanted me to do as far as me coming in. I love him, he’s a great coach and even a better man, so looking down the road hopefully he gets what he deserves.”
Update: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Detroit Lions will not move on from Jim Caldwell this off season.