A freshly trimmed Matt Patricia paused in the middle of his introductory news conference as the new Detroit Lions head coach to slide his famous pencil over his ear.
"I'm going to get comfortable here for a second," the former New England Patriots defensive coordinator said with a smirk.
After years of working under Bill Belichick, Patricia mastered the art of revealing little of his plans for the Lions other than espousing the NFL doctrine of winning as the primary goal.
Patricia declined to detail his schematic plans outside of "tailoring" the style to fit his players. When asked if Jim Bob Cooter would remain his offensive coordinator, Patricia simply relayed that JBC "is on the staff and will be here." The coach would also not offer whether he planned to call defensive plays or allow new DC Paul Pasqualoni to handle those duties.
Patricia has spent his entire NFL career with the Patriots, beginning as an offensive assistant in 2004 before eventually rising to defensive coordinator in 2012. With the Lions, he joins ex-Patriots executive Bob Quinn, who became the GM in 2016. The new head coach said he's not focused on bringing "The Patriot Way" to Detroit, but rather noted reaching such standards is a process.
"I think it's hard to really categorize a 'Way,'" he said. "I think in general, Bob and I have a lot of experience and history together and we believe in a lot of the same things as far as when you look at and evaluate players, how a team should be run, how it should be coached. So there is a great background that we both share. And, honestly, a common ground that we both understand is how we both envision a team being run. That's what makes it a great match for Bob and I to be in this situation. We can work together and try to put a team in place that we feel represents what we believe in and what we want the Detroit Lions to look like. Hopefully that product will show up on the field. And after, hopefully you have some success at that point. That's when you start calling it 'The Lions Way.' We've got a long way to go before we have any particular 'Way' in which we'll call our own."
Patricia made it clear that while he cherished his time working under Belichick, he's not trying to become a facsimile of the greatest coach in NFL history.
"The way that he looks at the game, his vision of the game, the way that he sees the game move and change before it actually does is unbelievable," he said. "I'll say this: there is one coach Belichick. That's it. He's amazing. He's in New England. I'm Matt Patricia. I'm kind of my own person. I'm my own guy. I've got my own style. But I will certainly take all those lessons that I've learned. From how to teach and coach, and the fundamental beliefs that we had in New England, which I think are strong."
Patricia takes over a Lions team that hasn't won a playoff game since 1991 and has gone through seven previous head coaches since 2000. Patricia is attempting to buck those trends, but also the history of failures of other coaches who have left the Belichick nest.
Patricia said he's not daunted by the undertaking.
"For me, whatever anybody has done in the past really doesn't have anything to do with me," he said. "I'm just trying to make sure that I can go out and do my best moving forward and put a plan in place to hopefully help us achieve success. Make sure that we're working in the right direction ... I'm not really worried about what everyone else has done. I'm just trying to do everything in my power to do everything right."
Detroit fired Jim Caldwell after a 36-28 record and two playoff appearances because the team believed it needed new leadership to become a true contender.