For weeks, Matt Patricia had been expected to be named the head coach of the Detroit Lions once the New England Patriots' season ended. Now, after a 41-33 Patriots loss against Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII, it's happened.
The Lions officially announced Patricia as the 27th head coach in franchise history Monday, less than a day after he finished his final game as the Patriots' defensive coordinator.
The 43-year-old Patricia has spent his entire NFL coaching career in New England, starting as an offensive assistant and working his way up to defensive coordinator by 2012. He made three Super Bowls running the Patriots' defense.
"This position comes with great responsibility, and I will commit every ounce of my energy to this football team, starting today," Patricia said in a statement. "My family is excited to become part of this wonderful city that displays so much passion for their teams.
"I can't express enough appreciation to the entire New England Patriots franchise, particularly Robert and Jonathan Kraft and their entire family. I will truly cherish these last 14 years as a member of this incredible organization."
Much like the man he'll now work for, Lions general manager Bob Quinn, Patricia started at the lower rungs of the New England organization to become one of Bill Belichick's most trusted advisors by the time he left.
"When we launched the search for our next head coach, I wanted to find a leader that could take us to the next level and I am confident we have found that in Matt Patricia," Quinn said in a statement Monday. "He has been preparing for this opportunity his entire career, and he's ready for the responsibility and its challenges.
"Matt is driven to succeed, has extreme passion for the game and excels in preparation. He embodies the same hard-working, blue-collar attributes that represent our organization and the great City of Detroit."
Since taking over the defensive coordinator job with the Patriots in 2012, New England had a 75-21 record. In that span, the Patriots allowed 107.1 rushing yards per game (No. 12) and 246.7 passing yards per game (No. 25). His teams were able to hold opponents out of the end zone, though, allowing 19.2 points per game -- second in the NFL to Seattle, which held teams to 16.99 points per game over the same time frame.
He also spent over a decade learning from Belichick as an offensive assistant, assistant offensive line coach, linebackers coach, safeties coach and then defensive coordinator. One of the things Belichick does best is prepare for situational football -- and that was something Quinn said was one of the main things he was looking for when he hired his next head coach.
"I'd like to express my appreciation and thanks to Bill Belichick," Patricia said. "He's been a remarkable mentor to me, not only as a football coach but also as a man and as a friend. I have learned immensely from his detailed leadership approach to the game, which has certainly shaped me into the football coach that I am today. Quite simply, I've been incredibly fortunate to work with, who I believe, is the greatest coach in NFL history.
"Now I turn all of my attention to the Lions. I look forward to the next chapter of my career in Detroit."
Quinn, when he had his press conference to discuss the firing of Jim Caldwell on Jan. 1, said familiarity with a coach could play a factor in his decision. It wouldn't be the only factor, he said, but it could be a part of it because Quinn believes the connection between himself and the man he hired has to be one of the most in-sync in the organization.
Patricia, a native of Sherrill, New York, was an offensive lineman from 1992 to 1995 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering. After working for a year at RPI as a graduate assistant, he became an engineer with Hoffman Air & Filtration Systems in East Syracuse, New York, for two years before going back to coaching.
He was the defensive line coach at Amherst from 1999 to 2000 and then a graduate assistant at Syracuse from 2001-03 before being hired by the Patriots for the 2004 season.
"He's really smart. This guy could probably build a plane and fly it -- like this guy is smart-smart," Belichick told NESN in 2015. He's got great recall and a really high IQ level in terms of just processing a lot of information."
Patricia takes over a Lions team that went 9-7 the past two seasons and has made the playoffs two of the past four years. Detroit, though, is one of four franchises to never reach the Super Bowl along with Cleveland, Houston and Jacksonville. The Lions last won a division title in 1993 and have one playoff victory in the Super Bowl era.
"On behalf of me and my family, I would like to congratulate and welcome Matt Patricia to the Detroit Lions as our new head coach," Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford said in a statement. "We are very excited to have Matt, his wife Raina, and their children, Dominic, Dante and Giamina join the Lions Family.
"I also want to commend Bob and [team president] Rod [Wood] for doing such an exemplary job with the search for our new head coach. I was most pleased with how we handled all the interviews and I am confident that we have found the right man to lead our football team."