Patricia, Lions go to Syracuse well again, hire Kunttu

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

The Lions’ trademark Honolulu blue continues to get more and more of an orange tint to it under coach Matt Patricia. Unable to bring any of New England’s staff with him, Patricia has loaded up with staff members from his previous stop, with Syracuse University.

The latest addition is Erik Kunttu, who will serve as the team’s director of video operations. Kunttu has been the video director for the Indianapolis Colts since 2011.

He joins defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, tight ends coach Chris White and director of football research David Corrao as hires from Patricia’s time at the school (2001-03).

Additionally, a holdover from Jim Caldwell’s coaching staff, running backs coach David Walker, was also at Syracuse during that time.

“The thing is, it may have 15 years since we’ve worked together, but we’ve had conversations, discussed philosophies,” Patricia said in an interview with The Detroit News.

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The key piece is Pasqualoni, who was the head coach at Syracuse during that time, and now will run Patricia’s defense. The pair’s relationship has evolved over the years, in part because Patricia went to work for Bill Belichick, while Pasqualoni’s first job after Syracuse was as an assistant coach in Dallas under Bill Parcells, Belichick’s mentor.

“Now there’s a common ground of philosophy that we’re constantly in communication over the last 12 years about how you’re teaching this, how are you doing this, how do you feel about this, what’s the alignment you using for this?” Patricia said. “That’s been a constant for us, which is great.”

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With the hiring last week of Bo Davis to coach the defensive line, Patricia’s staff has nearly rounded into form, but he warns it’s not a finished product, and probably won’t be before the 2018 season. He said that’s a lesson he learned picking the brains of friends who have been fired from head coaching positions in the past.

“The No. 1 thing that comes back every time is staff,” Patricia said. “Staff is critical. It’s not going to happen all at once. You have to have people you can work with, that you know are going to send the same message. It’s the same as building a team, you have to build a staff.”