Patricia can wait: Patriots win puts Lions on hold

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — All signs continue to point to the Detroit Lions holding out to hire New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as the franchise’s next head coach, but the team will have to wait at least another eight days.

That’s because the Patriots destroyed the Tennessee Titans Saturday night, 35-14, continuing a quest to defend their Super Bowl championship. The Patriots will play the Pittsburgh Steelers or Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship next Sunday.

And according to NFL rules regarding coaching hires, "No contract shall be executed, and no agreement to execute a contract, or an announcement of a contract, or of an agreement for employment, shall be permitted until after the conclusion of the employer club's playing season."

The Lions didn’t conduct any interviews for their vacancy last week, the second of their search to replace Jim Caldwell. It’s been presumed they’re locked in on Patricia, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that Patricia is likely to become the Lions coach once the Patriots’ season concludes.

"There have been a lot of people that think Matt Patricia is going to end up with the New York Giants, but it now looks likely he’s going to end up the head coach of the Detroit Lions," Schefter said on "NFL Insiders" on Sunday morning. "Again, there’s that relationship with Bob Quinn, the Lions general manager who worked in New England.

"I think there’s enough of an understanding there, enough of a conviction, a confidence in the two sides, that eventually this deal is likely to get done."

As Schefter alluded to, there’s been competition for Patricia's services. He has also interviewed with the Giants and Arizona Cardinals, and Sports Illustrated and the New York Daily News have both indicated Patricia to the Giants is more likely.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King wrote last week that Patricia, a New York native, prefers the Giants job, while the Daily News reported he’s the team’s top candidate after their first round of interviews.

And while Patricia’s resume is well-established, he certainly didn’t do anything to hurt his stock Saturday night. The Patriots defense smothered the upstart Titans, holding them to 14 points and 267 yards, while registering eight sacks in the victory.

It marked the 11th time in the past 13 games the Patriots have held the opposition to 17 or fewer points.

In addition to Patricia, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is the only other assistant from a team still alive in the playoffs to interview with the Lions. The Vikings host the New Orleans Saints Sunday at 4:40 p.m.

The Lions have been free to hire from the remaining pool of interviewees. That group includes the team’s offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel and Packers linebackers and assistant head coach Winston Moss.