<
>

New Lions coach Matt Patricia, the ex-engineer equipped with a pencil and an epic beard

Matt Patricia, after weeks of waiting, officially became the new head coach of the Detroit Lions on Monday.

A lot is already known about the 43-year-old native of Sherrill, New York, from his coaching background to his aeronautical engineering background. But here's what to focus on when it comes to the man and coaching.

1. He’s brilliant: There’s never been a question of that, and countless stories have been written about his intelligence. He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1996 with a degree in aeronautical engineering. While at Amherst as a defensive line coach, according to this 2010 story, he was using Excel spreadsheets to break down video and search for different ideas. While that sounds quaint now, it wasn't in 1999 and 2000. Examples of this have popped up throughout his coaching tenure -- particularly with the Patriots, where an MMQB profile of him explained how he uses analytics and advanced math to help create game plans.

2. His defenses have been good at keeping teams out of the end zone: While teams have sometimes racked up a lot of yards against Patrica defenses, they haven't necessarily scored much. Including the playoffs, the Patriots have allowed 19.5 points per game since Patricia took over as defensive coordinator in 2012. His teams allowed 30 or more points only 17 times in 108 games. More impressive, his teams held opponents to 10 points or fewer 21 times over that span. For comparison, in four seasons with the Lions (two fewer than Patricia's years as Patriots' DC), Jim Caldwell’s teams allowed 30 or more points 14 times and held teams to 10 or fewer points five times.

3. The pencil: Two of his most defining characteristics are the beard Patricia sports and the pencil that’s always behind his ear. According to a Houston Chronicle story, the pencil has been behind his ear for years, and it goes back to his engineering days when he had to draw everything with mechanical pencils. As to why he has it behind his ear? In this Yahoo! story, he explained that it’s for convenience.

4. His time as an engineer may shed light on his personality: Before his rise to NFL coach, he became well-known at Hoffman Air & Filtration Systems in East Syracuse, New York, as an application engineer. There, according to a Mass Live story, he was an ego-less employee who would engage in workplace bets where the stakes often involved the Syracuse restaurant staple Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. The story also gives some insight into his information retention and his focus on details.

5. This will be a change for him: Patricia has spent his entire playing and coaching career in two states: New York and Massachusetts. He played Division III football at RPI before coaching in New York (Rensselaer and Syracuse) and Massachusetts (Amherst and the Patriots). That’s it. His family is from the Northeast, too, as he grew up in Central New York. So coming to the Midwest might be a bit of a culture shock. Not that it will matter much considering how much he’ll be working, but he’s a guy who has become used to one part of the country -- as his family likely has, too.

6. The beard is unlikely to go anywhere: It’s the most recognizable trait of the new Lions head coach, something that’s talked about often on the sidelines and was during Super Bowl week. He didn’t always have the big-time facial hair, and this week he explained some of the significance behind it. It’s more than just a fashion statement or a means of intimidation. It’s actually a tribute to some of his friends in the military who are serving overseas, according to the Detroit News.