New Lions head coach Matt Patricia made his official debut in Detroit Wednesday, saying he’ll “work tirelessly to build a team that everyone around here can be proud of.”
Patricia, 43, comes to the Lions from the New England Patriots, where he was the defensive coordinator. He’s already made some other key coaching changes at the Lions, mostly on the defensive end.
But Patricia said his staff is still a “work in progress,” much like the team itself. He seemed to tamp down any expectations of the Lions winning championships right away.
“Before we talk about anything like that, I think first and foremost what we need to talk about is the [NFC North] division,” Patricia said. “We have a very competitive division, we have some great teams in the division, and you’re not going to be able to do anything unless you handle business in the division first.”
Patricia pledged the Lions will be “competitive,” and said his “bottom line is about winning.” But he also talked about “constant improvement” and noted: “This is a building process.”
Patricia comes on board after the Lions fired former Coach Jim Caldwell on New Year’s Day. The team was widely seen as underperforming despite posting winning records in three of Caldwell’s four seasons with the Lions.
Patricia largely sidestepped questions about the Lions’ historic franchise woes, and how they could impact his tenure with the team.
“It’s all about moving forward for me,” he said. “I don’t know if we can really go back and look at the past. I think you can learn from the past. I think you can take a look of examples of things that happened. But I wasn’t there, so I don’t really know.”
But Patricia seemed genuinely excited about his first NFL head coaching job, calling it “a dream come true” and discussing his love for the strategy behind the game.
“You know what the good thing about being the head coach is? Any time I want to call a play, offense, defense or special teams, I get to call it,” Patricia said. “So that’ll be pretty exciting for me.”
Patricia also said he’s “truly excited” to play home games at Ford Field in front of Lions fans. “I’ve had the opportunity to play here a couple of times, and I’m very excited to have that on my side this time. Because it’s really loud in that place.”