FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Matt Patricia, who was fired as Detroit Lions head coach in November before the completion of his third year on the job, is returning to the New England Patriots' coaching staff in 2021, a source confirmed.
Patricia had been an assistant on Bill Belichick's staff from 2004 to 2017 before landing the Lions job. In Detroit, he posted a 13-29-1 record, with one of those victories coming over Belichick's Patriots early in his first season.
It was a turbulent tenure in Detroit for Patricia, and a return to New England -- where he is expected to assist Belichick's staff in a variety of roles -- provides him a safe and familiar haven in which to continue his coaching career in the NFL.
Patricia, 46, had most recently served as the Patriots' defensive coordinator from 2012 to 2017, and in his absence, Belichick hasn't given that title to another coach. But Belichick referenced this past season that his son Steve, the outside linebackers coach, was calling the defense.
Also, inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo has a significant role. Mayo, 34, is considered a coach on the rise, as evidenced by his recent interview with the Philadelphia Eagles for their head-coaching opening that went to Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni.
Patricia's return mirrors, in part, what came in 2014, when Belichick hired Michael Lombardi -- his former director of player personnel with the Cleveland Browns (1991-95) -- as an assistant to the head coach.
The familiarity that Lombardi had with Belichick, and the team's overall system, made his transition into the organization rather seamless.
The Boston Globe first reported Patricia's return.