By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions desperately hope Matt Patricia ends their decades-long search for a coach who can help them have success in the playoffs.
Patricia, with his previously bushy beard trimmed, had his first news conference Wednesday on the team’s indoor practice field.
“This is a dream come true,” he said.
The 43-year-old Patricia helped New England win three Super Bowls over 14 years. He was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator the past six seasons. Patricia and Lions general manager Bob Quinn worked together for a dozen years in New England.
Detroit has been searching for decades to find a coach who can help the franchise have success in the playoffs and at least appear in the Super Bowl for the first time.
“Our goal is to win and to compete for championships and I believe we’re taking the next step,” team president Rod Wood said.
Since winning the 1957 NFL title, Detroit’s only postseason victory was more than a quarter-century ago.
“I wanted to find a leader that could take us to the next level and I am confident we have found that in Matt Patricia,” Quinn said.
Quinn fired coach Jim Caldwell last month with a 36-28 mark over four years and two playoff appearances. The Lions went 9-7 last season and missed the playoffs, ranking among the NFL’s worst rushing teams for the fourth straight year.
In recent years, Patricia has become a candidate to lead a team in the league. He appeared to be in the running to be hired by his homestate New York Giants, but seemed to choose the challenge in the Motor City.
Patricia, who is from Sherrill, New York, has taken a unique path in his career.
He earned an aeronautical engineering degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and later added a master’s degree in education from the University of Massachusetts to his resume.
The former center and guard was a graduate assistant at RPI in 1996 before shifting gears to be an aeronautical engineer for two years. Patricia got back on the sideline as a defensive line coach at Amherst College in 1999 and went on to be a graduate assistant for Paul Pasqualoni, whom he has hired to be Detroit’s defensive coordinator.
Jim Bob Cooter was not mentioned in the Lions’ release regarding staff additions, but he is listed on the team’s website as its returning offensive coordinator.
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