ALLEN PARK >> Paul Pasqualoni set off on a career of teaching.
He started at the bottom, teaching physical education to kindergarteners through sixth-graders.
“I was like a K-6 teacher, had no intentions to ever coach in college or pro football. It’s just I wanted to be a high school coach back in my hometown, Chester, Conn. When I got the freshman job there, I felt like I had the greatest job I could ever have. I mean, this is like, ‘Wow, I’ve got the best job there is. How lucky,’’’ Pasqualoni said on Tuesday.
Since those days his football coaching career has taken him to several states and stops.
A few months ago he landed in Detroit as the Lions’ defensive coordinator under new coach Matt Patricia who worked for him when he was head coach at Syracuse.
Pasqualoni may be a long way from K-6, but in his heart he’s still a teacher.
Five things to know about the affable Pasqualoni:
1. So far all is good in his new position. “First of all, it’s great to be here. This is a great organization. The Ford family is first class. This is a first class, really. The NFL’s first class, this is really first class. It’s great to be here,’’ Pasqualoni said. “Lot of fun to have the opportunity to work with the guys on the staff we have. We have outstanding coaches on this staff. Obviously, it’s fun to be around the energy that Coach Patricia brings, and it’s fun to be around the energy that the players here bring. There’s a lot of good players here. They’re great to work with. It’s been my pleasure to be here.”
2. His defensive philosophy appears standard. “To be smart, to be tough, that means to be able to perform at a very dependable, high level on a consistent basis. Like you’ve heard a hundred times, stop the run, try to make the quarterback uncomfortable. You’re not going to sack the guy, but there has to be in a variety of ways, discomfort created for the guy playing the quarterback position,’’ Pasqualoni said. “Whether it’s disguise, or pressure, whatever it might be. You just can’t let quarterbacks at this level operate and be comfortable, because in the end they’ll get you. In a nutshell, that’s kind of it.”
3. Patricia has said repeatedly since his arrival that the defense won’t feature just a 4-3 or 3-4 front. “We’ll have some four-man fronts, and we’ll have some three-man fronts and we’ll have a variety of stuff. It’s been very enjoyable because the players have been really terrific, and are working hard in the classroom, in the meeting room and out on the field,’’ Pasqualoni said. “And the coaching staff, the guys I have an opportunity to work with: Al Golden, and Brian Stewart, Bo Davis, the support staff here, they’re just outstanding coaches. So, it’s been very, very, very good.”
4. He loves this time of year because he draws on his teaching background. “You know, I’ve always thought this about this time of year—whether I was a high school coach in Connecticut. We had spring practice, believe it or not, in the state of Connecticut. A lot of people won’t believe that, but we had spring practice. As a college coach, of course you always had spring practice. And then you go on to the NFL, and there’s the offseason program and there’s OTAs. Here’s what I always felt about the offseason, I always felt it was a great time for players and it was a great time for coaches, because coaches could teach,’’ Pasqualoni said. “And you didn’t have to worry about a game plan, an adjustment, and, ‘What are we going to do with this guy and what are we going to do with that guy?’ And for the players, it gave them a chance to just focus on getting better and that’s the goal. We have one goal every day, and that’s to improve. So, they have a chance to work on the tools that they need to perfect, to put in their toolbox, to be able to play the game. As a coach, as I said, you’re just coaching and teaching. We got into this business to be teachers and coaching is teaching. So, it’s a very, very good time of year for players to improve and to worry about technique. We’re not so much worried about scheme. I think the scheme, in the end, will take care of itself. I think the issue right now is improving fundamentally and learning how to play technique.”
5. He’s not intimidated by calling the defense on game day referring to his last two seasons as the defensive line coach at Boston College. “I think that if they (the NFL offenses have) changed, they’ve gone a little bit more to the college spread set, zone-read set. So, the past two years in the ACC, I promise you I’ve seen that a little bit, up front and very, very close and personal,’’ Pasqualoni said. “So, if anything, I think it’s probably helped me a little bit, it really has. And there’s been some good quarterbacks in that league, too, a couple good ones. It’s helped.”