Patricia: Players’ talents will dictate Lions’ schemes

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Matt Patricia isn’t to the point where he can comfortably discuss the Detroit Lions’ personnel. That process of familiarization began in earnest on Wednesday, after he was formally introduced as the team’s head coach.

But one thing he wants to make clear, he won’t attempt to pigeonhole the team’s talent into specific schemes. Instead, the aeronautical engineering graduate, and self-described problem solver, will craft his schemes around the team’s talent.

“Again, scheme and things like that is going to be a process for us to go through before we kind of nail everything down,” Patricia said. “There’s a whole player evaluation that needs to take place first. There’s obviously free agency, the draft, which affects all of that, too. As you go through the process of spring, training camp and the season, for me that changes.

“You want to kind of make sure you tailor what you do to the players that you have, so that they can perform at a high level out on the field.”

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An example Lions fans can understand is Kyle Van Noy. The Lions drafted the playmaking linebacker out of BYU and asked him to play off the ball, something he had not done in college. He struggled to make that transition and was eventually traded to the Patriots, where Patricia utilized him in a more familiar on-the-ball role. Van Noy started 12 games for New England last season, recording career-highs in tackles (73) and sacks (5.5).

On Wednesday, the Lions announced Paul Pasqualoni will run the team’s defense. Both he and Patricia have experience with various defensive schemes, but have spent more time working with 4-3 fronts, which is what the Lions have run for years. That said, Patricia’s defense in New England, while considered a 4-3, presented different looks up front, depending on that week’s game plan.

“The game plans may be different week to week, and that’s where people tend to see the different looks that we give,” Patricia said last week, leading up to the Super Bowl. “It’s more of a we’re going to do whatever we can that week to win against the particular opponent because it really is different every week.”

Patricia will concede defensive play-calling to Pasqualoni, but reserved the right to override calls, and not just on defense.

“Well, you know what the good thing about being the head coach is?” Patricia said. “Anytime I want to call a play, offense, defense or special teams, I get to call it. So, that’ll be pretty exciting for me.”