The New England Patriots’ first offseason addition did not bolster the roster, but rather the team’s coaching staff: as was reported on Friday, the team re-hired former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to “assist the coaching staff in a variety of roles” and help with personnel evaluation. While it remains to be seen how Patricia’s impact will actually look like, him returning to New England brings back memories of a similar move.
Just before the start of the 2011 playoffs, the team also decided to bring another one of its ex-coaches back into the fold. Josh McDaniels joined the Patriots as an assistant after a one-year stint as the then-St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator.
While the circumstances were different back then — McDaniels was brought aboard with the plan of eventually succeeding Bill O’Brien as coordinator after the season — the move is still similar in nature as this week’s. Both McDaniels and Patricia, after all, had left the Patriots to become head coaches elsewhere. Both failed to find success, were eventually fired by their respective teams, and found their way back to New England.
In McDaniels’ case, he was named the Denver Broncos’ head coach in 2009 and was off to an impressive start. After Denver won its first six games of the season, however, the team went 2-8 over the rest of the year to miss the playoffs. McDaniels was eventually fired midway through the 2010 season after a 3-9 start and videotaping scandal.
Patricia, meanwhile, left New England after the 2017 season to take over as the Detroit Lions’ head coach. Despite taking over a 9-7 team, the Patriots’ long-time defensive coordinator was unable to register even a single winning season in Detroit: after going 6-10 and 3-12-1 in his first two years, the Lions parted ways with him and general manager Bob Quinn — another former Patriots employee — after a 4-7 start in 2020.
Despite his disappointing tenure in Detroit, however, it seems as if New England head coach Bill Belichick still thinks that Patricia can be of some value to his organization heading into the upcoming season. While not in the entirely same position as McDaniels, the 46-year-old does apparently enjoy a similar same level of trust.
Bringing McDaniels back paid some major dividends, as he helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls in his second stint as offensive coordinator. Patricia will likely not have the same obvious impact given that he will operate more in the background based on his reported role. That said, he can still play a major role in helping New England rebuild a defense that struggled at time in 2020 and needs to build around its young core.