When this story was originally drafted on Tuesday evening, it looked a lot different. After all, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had just been announced as the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. However, the deal fell apart and so did the original draft for this story – one that would also have included a meeting between New England and McDaniels' new team next season.
But be that as it may, the Patriots have still seen one coordinator leave the building: On Monday, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was officially named the next head coach of the Detroit Lions and he was presented to the public yesterday. The 43-year old had previously coordinated the Patriots defense since the 2012 season and helped the team win two Super Bowls during his tenure as the unit's signal caller.
While it remains to be seen who will follow Patricia as play caller on the defensive sides of the football – linebackers coach Brian Flores is the favorite –, we already know one thing for sure: Patricia, just like McDaniels' Colts would have, will face his old employer during the 2018 regular season as New England has the Lions on the schedule.
The date for the game will be announced in late April but what is already known is that the Patriots will travel to Detroit. There, Patricia and a staff that features two former Patriots assistant coaches will try to duplicate some of the success other Bill Belichick assistants-turned-head coaches have had against their former boss in their first meeting:
Al Groh: Groh served as the linebackers coach for Belichick's Cleveland Browns in 1992. He later became head coach of the New York Jets after Belichick decided to resign on his first day at the job. In September of the same year, Groh's Jets met Belichick's Patriots – a game New York won 20-19. The team also won the two clubs' second meeting later that same season.
Romeo Crennel: During his four-year tenure as defensive coordinator under Belichick, Crennel helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls. He left to become head coach of the Browns in 2005 and two years later played his first game against New England. The Patriots, en route to a perfect 16-0 record, won 34-17.
Josh McDaniels: As a head coach, McDaniels has been able to defeat Belichick's Patriots before. During his stint with the Denver Broncos in 2009, his team won 20-17 in overtime.
Eric Mangini: After leaving New England to become head coach of the Jets, the Patriots' former defensive coordinator was defeated by his old team in their first meeting: In week two of the 2006 season, Belichick and the Patriots beat Mangini's Jets 24-17. Mangini was however able to win the rematch later during the season.
Nick Saban: Before winning national championships at Alabama but after winning a national championship at LSU, Saban was head coach of the Miami Dolphins. In this role, he met his former boss – Saban was Belichick's from 1991 to 1995 – twice during the 2005 season: Saban's Dolphins lost the first meeting 23-16 but won the rematch 28-26.
Jim Schwartz: The Eagles' current defensive coordinator worked as a scouting assistant for Belichick's Browns. In 2009, he became head coach of the Detroit Lions and one year later met his old head coach on Thanksgiving. The Patriots won that game in blowout fashion by a score of 45-24.
Bill O'Brien: McDaniels' successor and predecessor as New England's offensive coordinator, O'Brien became head coach of the Houston Texans in 2014. During the 2015 regular season, the Texans hosted his former team and promptly lost 27-6.
The Patriots will also have an intriguing game against former Patriots linebacker and Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and will now have a fun revenge game against the Colts after McDaniels spurned their head coaching offer.