Three top candidates for Lions have no head coaching experience

That’s Matt Patricia wearing Goodell clown T-shirt

ALLEN PARK — After firing Jim Caldwell on Monday, Lions general manager Bob Quinn begins the process of replacing him.

Quinn’s background with the Patriots, makes it a natural assumption that he will look at New England’s defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

The Lions have requested to talk to Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Vrabel would be available immediately since the Texans are not in the playoffs.

A request has also been submitted to talk to Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

None of the three have served as an NFL head coach.

Quinn will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. on Monday.

Here’s a look at three of the top candidates.

— Patricia, 43, is a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots where he has worked since 2004. He started as an offensive assistant and has served as defensive coordinator since 2012. In the 2017 season, the Patriots defense was ranked 29th in the NFL, allowing 366.0 yards per game. Patricia apparently is not a huge fan of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.  After the Patriots won Super Bowl LI, Patricia wore a shirt that featured Goodell with a red clown nose. He wore the shirt while deplaning at Logan International Airport in Boston. (See photo above, courtesy of NBC Boston.)

— Vrabel, 42, played defensive end at Ohio State. He spent 2017 as Houston Texans defensive coordinator after working as the Texans linebackers coach from 2014 to 2016. The Texans finished the 2017 regular season with the 20th ranked NFL defense, allowing 346.6 yards per game.  He coached at Ohio State from 2011-2013.

— Wilks, 48, started coaching in the college ranks and moved to the NFL in 2006 where he served as the Chicago Bears defensive backs coach until 2008. He had the same position with the San Diego Chargers from 2009-2011. Wilks joined the Panthers in 2012 as defensive backs coach and served as defensive coordinator in the 2017 season. The Panthers are the NFL’s seventh best defensive team allowing just 317.1 yards per game.


Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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