Dec 22, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Lions’ Patricia gives up defensive play calling

Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia is turning over the play calling on defense to first-year defensive coordinator Cory Undlin.

Patricia called the bulk of the plays last season when Paul Pasqualoni served as defensive coordinator. But with Undlin in charge of the plays, Patricia told reporters Monday that he’ll have more opportunity to help the Lions make in-game adjustments on offense and on special teams.

“Just in general, philosophy for me as a head coach is to manage the game, and make sure that I’m there for all three phases when questions come up and certainly (when) we’re talking through scenarios, situational football as it comes up through the course of the game, penalties, things like that, and then obviously input,” Patricia said.

“It’s free rein where I get to help and sometimes I see the game a little bit differently from my lens as the head coach as opposed to when you’re a coordinator and you’re dialed in to that call, that play, the next call or the next situation. Sometimes bigger picture stuff I can help with.”

Patricia’s record in his first two seasons leading the Lions is 9-22-1. He was the defensive coordinator for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for six seasons prior to moving on to Detroit and was with the Patriots from 2004-17.

Last season, the Lions’ defense was last in passing defense (284.4 yards per game) and 21st in rushing defense (115.9 yards). The Lions could have as many as six new starters on defense in 2020.

“Cory has been grinding away,” Patricia said. “He’s our defensive coordinator. He’s been working to understand everything that we’re doing defensively and obviously has his input.

“Cory and I have known each other a long time. Certainly without the spring it was obviously going to be interesting to see how training camp went and the operation and all that. He’s ready to go; he’s ready to call it and do what he’s got to do. He’s the defensive coordinator.”

Undlin will be calling the plays from the field instead of the booth. For the past five seasons, he was the defensive backs coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Lions are scheduled to open the season against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 13 in Detroit.

–Field Level Media