- The most recognizable assistant coach on the New England Patriots is defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, but he almost wasn’t hired by Bill Belichick.
- Belichick initially offered Patricia a job on his staff in 2004, but Patricia did not immediately accept the position, prompting Belichick to reportedly withdraw the offer.
- Belichick was talked into re-extending the offer and now Patricia is about to become an NFL head coach.
Along with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, one of the most recognizable faces on the New England Patriots sideline over the past several seasons has been that of bearded defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
Often seen scowling on the sidelines with a pencil poking out from his backwards hat, Patricia has worked under Belichick’s tutelage since 2004. Over that stretch, he has risen from a low-level “offensive coaching assistant” to roles coaching the linebackers, and the safeties, and then, in 2012, to running the defense.
But according to Tim Rohan of the MMQB, back in 2004 Patricia nearly lost his opportunity to join the Patriots after, upon learning he had been offered the job, he did not immediately accept the position because he wanted to consult his wife.
Patricia, at the time, was a graduate assistant at Syracuse. He had, quite literally, studied rocket science at RPI as an undergrad, but said that his interview with Belichick was the hardest of his life. Belichick evidently liked his brains, though, and decided to offer him the job.
Patricia’s phone rang. The Patriots. The job was his, but they wanted an answer immediately. He hesitated. Understandably, he told them he needed to consult his wife first.
The Patriots pulled the offer. If Patricia couldn’t answer them then, they figured, he wasn’t that committed. He wouldn’t fit their culture.
Patricia, Rohan writes, flipped out. Eventually, after some back-channeling, he got through to Nick Carparelli, a former Syracuse coach who at the time was Belichick’s director of operations.
Carparelli lobbied Belichick, who had this to say (from the MMQB):
“What’s up with this kid Matt Patricia? Should I hire him?”
“Is he going to flake out on me? Does he really want the job? Or is he going to leave midseason?”
“Coach, trust me.”
“Nick,” Belichick said, “if I hire this kid and it doesn’t work out, I’m going to kill you.”
Twelve years and two Super Bowls later, it’s safe to say that Patricia has worked out quite well for Belichick. Still, that Belichick nearly decided to not hire Patricia simply because he briefly hesitated on the phone (to ask his wife! what a crime!) is yet another example of Belichick’s crazily obsessive and intense demeanor.
Patricia is now expected to be named the next head coach of the Detroit Lions after the Super Bowl and it may have never happened if Belichick wasn’t talked into changing his mind a second time.
Emmett Knowlton contributed to this report.