At Super Bowl, Matt Patricia still won’t talk Lions

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

St. Paul, Minn. — Matt Patricia will officially become the Detroit Lions head coach sometime next week, but until then, he’s laser-focused on his current role as the New England Patriots defensive coordinator.

On Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday, Patricia batted away every question about his future like an All-Pro cornerback breaking up passes, continually shifting focus back to Patriots’ upcoming opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Again, I really just have one job and that’s I’m the Patriots defensive coordinator,” Patricia said. “That’s it. I’m just trying to get ready to the Philadelphia Eagles.”

The Lions opted not to take advantage of a second interview opportunity with Patricia this week. It would have been an unnecessary formality, especially since he’s already begun to shape his coaching staff, informing several of the Lions’ assistants they won’t be retained once he comes on board.

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Still, there was no way he was going to engage in specifics about his next job when he still has a final task ahead of him.

“Have you guys watched Eagles?” Patricia asked the swell of reporters around him in the stands Xcel Energy Center. “Have you watched that offense? It’s really good. If you have any suggestions, let me know. That’s my major nightmare right now.”

Sporting a leather jacket over a polo, instead of the expected hooded sweatshirt, Patricia still had his trademark No. 2 pencil tucked behind his ear, just in case an idea popped into his head that he needed to jot down.

Asked how much he prepared to ignore questions about the Lions (as well as his reported spurning of the New York Giants and his decision to wear a shirt mocking commissioner Roger Goodell last year), Patricia said it’s easy because it’s genuine.

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“It’s really honestly how I feel,” he said. “I think people don’t understand, I’m very concerned right now to make sure my players have the best opportunity to win. This is a huge game for us. It’s an extremely difficult opponent.

“They do a lot of things to attack us defensively. If I don’t do everything I can to put them in the right position to give us a chance to win on the field … that’s what keeps me up. I really want to make sure that we’re fully dialed in, focused and ready to go. It’s an easy answer.”

The Lions will be free to introduce Patricia as the franchise’s 27th head coach after the Super Bowl, reuniting him with general manager Bob Quinn. The pair worked together 12 years in New England before Quinn joined the Lions in 2016.