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5 candidates to replace Matt Patricia as Lions head coach

Fansided logo Fansided 9/23/2020 Mike Luciano
a group of people watching a football game © Provided by Fansided
a person standing in front of a crowd: Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions © Provided by Fansided Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 13: Detroit Lions head football coach Matt Patricia (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Matt Patricia could be replaced if the Lions keep losing.

The Detroit Lions were apparently not satisfied with the 9-7 record head coach Jim Caldwell helped the team achieve in 2017, so they decided to hire a coach in Matt Patricia who has managed the same amount of wins in 34 games as Lions head coach.

The Lions can't keep Patricia if he continues to keep this team, who has lost 11 straight games dating back to last year. If, or more likely when, Patricia gets the ax they should look at one of these five replacements.

Detroit Lions: 5 candidates that can put fans out of their Matt Patricia misery

5
Matt Eberflus
DC Indianapolis Colts

There is a lot of hype around Frank Reich, Nick Sirianni, and the Indianapolis offense, but Eberflus might've done a more impressive job on the defensive side of the ball. Eberflus, a former linebackers coach with the Dallas Cowboys, has helped Indy have one of the league's most feared pass rushes while molding Darius Leonard into arguably the most productive linebacker in the game right now. Hiring a defensive coach in Patricia hasn't worked out, but Eberflus seems a bit different.

It's becoming more apparent by the day that Patricia's success as a defensive coordinator was largely due to Bill Belichick. Eberflus, has was a defensive coordinator at Missouri for seven years before working as a linebacker coach for the last decade, was also a passing game coordinator during Dak Prescott tremendous rookie season. A well-traveled coach who knows both sides of the ball and commands respect, Eberflus can take a roster that has plenty of quality starters on it and help them compete for a division title sooner rather than later.

Next: No. 4
Kellen Moore standing in front of a crowd: Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys © Provided by Fansided Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 28: Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

4
Kellen Moore
OC Dallas Cowboys

After a legendary career at Boise State, Moore latched on with the Lions as an undrafted free agent quarterback for two seasons. After his playing career ended, Moore shifted to coaching, and he has become one of the most productive offensive coordinators in the league at the age of 32. Under his watch, Prescott almost threw for 5,000 yards, and Ezekiel Elliott sustained his elite production. That is the kind of schematic insight and genius that the Lions need right now, as even a solid OC like Darrell Bevell pales in comparison to Moore.

Hiring such a young coach has all the signs of a major risk, but it doesn't look like the Rams and 49ers are regretting their young head coaches. Matthew Stafford might be on the wrong side of 30, but he is still a very productive quarterback that needs someone like Moore to kick him in the but and get him back to the upper tier of NFL starters. Hiring an experienced staff around him will be a necessity that could doom him if he fails, and the fact he was playing as recently as three years ago could give Detroit pause for thought, but his on the job performance has been exemplary so far, and he deserved a crack at this opening.

Next: No. 3
a group of baseball players standing on top of a grass covered field: Arthur Smith, Tennessee Titans © Provided by Fansided Arthur Smith, Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, TN – AUGUST 19: Tight ends coach Arthur Smith (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

3
Arthur Smith
OC Tennessee Titans

The son of the founder of FedEx, Smith has raised his stock exponentially over the last few years. After spending the last decade with the Titans, both as a defensive assistant and tight ends coach from 2014 to 2018, Smith was handed offensive coordinator responsibilities in 2019. The result saw Ryan Tannehill have the best season of his career while leading the Titans to road upsets of Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson in the playoffs. In 2020, he has the Titans off to a 2-0 start. The Titans, who have been longing for consistency on offense, finally found it thanks to Smith. Unfortunately, his performance might've been too good, as the Lions might be inclined to pursue him as a head coach.

Smith would instantly revitalize the Detroit offense, as D'Andre Swift could finally be unleased in the running game while Stafford will get back to chucking to deep down the field. Smith's relative inexperience is going to be a mark against him, especially for a Lions team that is reeling from hiring another failed Belichick assistant. Having said that, Smith has proved that his schematic innovations can give new juice to a lackluster passing game, and that alone should guarantee him a long leash in Detroit.

Next: No. 2
Robert Saleh standing in front of a crowd: Robert Saleh, San Francisco 49ers © Provided by Fansided Robert Saleh, San Francisco 49ers

BALTIMORE, MD – DECEMBER 01: Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

2
Robert Saleh
DC San Francisco 49ers

Saleh is about as subtle as a punch in the face, but his style of cranking the intensity switch up to 11 and playing an aggressive, manic style of defense helped the 49ers come one Patrick Mahomes supernova performance away from winning the Super Bowl. Saleh has certainly paid his dues as an assistant on good teams, as he worked under Pete Carroll in Seattle before Kyle Shanahan named him defensive coordinator of one of the NFL's deepest and most talented units. Saleh interviewed for a few openings last year, but nothing materialized. If San Francisco keeps winning thanks to this defense, Saleh might finally get his chance in Detroit.

Patricia also claims to be a defensive mastermind, but he had the attitude of an ivory tower professor with a brilliant schematic brain. Saleh, on the other hand, is not only a superior defensive mind given how he's kept San Francisco dominant despite injuries on the defensive line and in the secondary, but he plays with the same amount of emotion as the players do, and that be a welcome sign for a Lions team that looks like they are asleep for half of the game. Saleh's combustible nature might cause trouble, but there are few defensive coordinators in the league who are better.

Next: No. 1
a man standing in front of a crowd: Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs © Provided by Fansided Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs

Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

1
Eric Bieniemy
OC Kansas City Chiefs

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the fact that Bieniemy was not hired as a head coach means that he is either the worst interviewer in the history of man or NFL teams weren't interested in a man who built one of the league's most explosive offenses while helping Patrick Mahomes evolve into a champion and the best passer in football. The Chiefs look set on either repeating or coming damn close to it, and that should help Bieniemy finally earn himself an opportunity as a head coach.

Bieniemy needs to nail it with his defensive coordinator hire, as the Lions look completely limp on that side of the ball right now. Stafford and the offense will take care of itself given how much information he has soaked up under Andy Reid. If he can entrust the defense to that coordinator and install the same offensive brilliance in Detroit that he did in Kansas City, the Lions should erase the laughable Patricia era and finally start to challenge the Packers.

Next: 0-2 teams who can turn it around
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