A noteworthy Bill Belichick disciple now is without a coaching job.
The Detroit Lions fired head coach Matt Patricia over the weekend. The Lions went 13-29 over Patricia’s two-plus seasons at the helm and finished last in the NFC North in each of the last two campaigns.
Patricia’s exit prompted a common train of thought across the football world: Could the 46-year-old return to New England, where he served on the coaching staff for 14 years before landing in Detroit? Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, for one, isn’t ruling out the possibility.
“I wouldn?t be stunned if Matt Patricia wound up back in New England in some capacity,” Breer wrote in his latest Monday Afternoon Quarterback column. “He?s maintained a very close relationship with Bill Belichick since leaving Foxboro, and was proficient in developing young guys on defense?New England was flush with homegrown stars like Devin McCourty, Dont?a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones over Patricia?s time running that side of the ball?which will be an important skill with a roster that badly needs to be turned over. I also believe that Patricia, with family ties to the area, would probably welcome a return. The only question, to me, would be potential awkwardness in slotting Patricia back in, with Belichick?s son Stephen and Jerod Mayo having taken on such prominent roles on the staff in recent years. (What would be more surprising to me, while we?re here, would be Bob Quinn landing back with the Patriots.)”
Belichick on Monday sidestepped a question about a potential Patricia reunion, noting New England is focusing on its current tasks at hand.
It wouldn’t be an unprecedented move if Patricia were to come back to Foxboro, however. Josh McDaniels returned as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator in 2012 following his brief tenure as the Denver Broncos’ head coach and a pit stop in St. Louis.
Perhaps New England would be inclined to bring back Patricia if Mayo lands a new gig over the offseason. A recent report from the Houston Chronicle identified the ex-linebacker as a “rising star” in NFL coaching circles.