Come fall, Matt Patricia, with pencil tucked firmly behind his ear, is likely going to be patrolling some NFL sideline as a head coach. But where?
The New England Patriots defensive coordinator, the hottest name among assistant coaches expected to move up, is moving toward becoming the next coach of the Detroit Lions, according to ESPN in news that is likely to disappoint New York Giants fans. Patricia, 43, and the Lions, however, still have to agree on contract details, something that under NFL rules cannot be done until the Patriots' season ends. New England advanced to the AFC championship game next weekend with a victory Saturday night over Tennessee.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduate Patricia would be joining Bob Quinn, who formerly worked for the Patriots and is now the Lions general manager.
As for the Giants, they'll be in a bit of a pickle if Patricia ends up in Detroit. They're also eyeing Josh McDaniels, the Patriots' offensive coordinator, and Pat Shurmur, the Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator. McDaniels has emerged as the top choice to replace Chuck Pagano with the Indianapolis Colts, according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and Shurmur is believed to be the top choice of the Arizona Cardinals after the retirement of Bruce Arians. Like Patricia, McDaniels and Shurmur cannot finalize contracts until after their teams' seasons end. Shurmur's Vikings play the Saints in a divisional-round game Sunday afternoon.
Detroit might be the most comfortable landing spot for Patricia, given his penchant for tweaking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Better for him to not to be just across the river from the NFL's Park Avenue headquarters after wearing a Deflategate T-shirt depicting Goodell as a clown after the Patriots won Super Bowl LI last February.
Both Patricia and McDaniels have a key recommendation going for them.
"I think Matt is a great leader. He's got a great personality and he works his tail off," Tom Brady told the New York Daily News on Saturday night. "He's got a tremendous amount of respect from all the players. Just a great coach. I love Matt."
Although he had a much ballyhooed sideline argument with McDaniels during a game last fall, Brady has since apologized.
"I don't want to make it seem like I don't like Josh," Brady said. "I love Josh. Josh is spectacular. He's one of the best. He's just an incredible coach, an incredible friend. We've been together for a long time. But great coaches get great opportunities and I'm very happy for both of them."