Patriots' Matt Patricia focused on playoffs, not Lions job

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has been the presumptive favorite to fill the Lions' coaching vacancy since the team parted ways Jim Caldwell.

If New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia expects to be named the next Detroit Lions head coach, he’s not tipping his hand.

During a Monday conference call, Patricia, who has been the presumptive favorite since the onset of the Lions’ search, spoke in broad generalities about the interviews he had over the weekend and downplayed his preexisting relationship with Lions general manager Bob Quinn.

Patricia interviewed with three teams over the weekend, sitting down with the Lions, Giants and Cardinals. Similar to his comments last year, when he talked to the Rams and Chargers about their openings, he played up the process as a learning experience and offered no specific insight on his prospects of filling any of the vacancies.

“It's always a learning experience, like when I've been through it before,” Patricia said. “You know, you have the opportunity to learn about some other franchises and get a chance to talk about how they do things and really just kind of broaden your whole overall education of what the NFL and the different organizations are. So, it's always a very informative process.

“It's interesting when you go through it,” he continued. “The good part about it is when it's done, then you really just kind of flip your focus back to the task at hand. So, really at that point, it was the three teams trying to prepare for who we were going to play, and then it obviously got narrowed down and full steam ahead on Tennessee trying to get ready to defend a very talented group. So, quickly we've got to turn the page and get all of our attention and focus, details to getting ready for them."

More: Lions’ Hyder ready to ‘ramp it up’ for 2018 return

More: Report: Lions block Packers from interviewing Teryl Austin

The Patriots open their postseason Saturday night when the team hosts the Titans at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

At the end of his conference call, Patricia was asked about his relationship with Quinn. Again, the coordinator focused his answer on the upcoming matchup with the Titans.

“You know, I have relationships with guys throughout the entire league, and I obviously like to maintain my relationships to the best of my ability,” he said. “But, really right now, my focus is on Tennessee and just trying to get ready for what we've got in front of us. That's kind of my main thing right now.”

Over the weekend, Pro Football Talk reported the Patriots were bracing to lose Patricia to the Lions, who wouldn’t be able to announce a hiring until the Patriots have been eliminated from the postseason.

If the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl, the Lions could request a second interview during the two-week leadup to the game.

Detroit has interviewed six candidates to replace Jim Caldwell and the team is expected to talk to Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks this week prior to making a decision.

In addition to Patricia’s comments, Patriots coach Bill Belichick reaffirmed his commitment to remaining with the franchise. Following a weekend report of turmoil between the coach, quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft, there was speculation Belichick may look to move on after the season.

While Belichick largely avoiding commenting on the report, he offered a one-word response when asked if he planned to be back with the Patriots in 2018.

“Absolutely,” he said.