Sean Payton, a former Super Bowl-winning head coach, has reportedly interviewed an unexpected candidate for his defensive coordinator vacancy in Denver. Matt Patricia, whose coaching career includes winning two Super Bowl rings as the New England Patriots' defensive coordinator, spent Wednesday with the Broncos, according to NFL Media. He is one of three finalists along with two other former head coaches: and Vance Joseph.
The former Detroit Lions head coach and current New England senior football advisor/offensive line coach has 19 seasons of NFL coaching experience, three as a head coach and 16 as an assistant. Thirteen of those 16 as an assistant were on the defensive side of the ball, but he spent last season helping run since Bill Belichick became the team's head coach. Payton considering Patricia as his defensive coordinator means the longtime New Orleans Saints head coach believes in the potential for Patricia to maximize Denver's defensive talent that includes All-Pro cornerback Patrick Surtain II and Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons. Patricia has six seasons of experience as a defensive coordinator, serving as Belichick's DC with the Patriots from 2012-2017.
Following that run of success in which his defense was the second-best scoring defense in the league (19.2 points per game allowed) behind only the Seattle Seahawks' "Legion of Boom" (17.0 points per game allowed), the Lions hired Patricia to be their head coach. He went 13-29-1 in three seasons from 2018-2020 with no playoff appearances.
Should he procure the job, Patricia would be in charge of a defense that ranked 14th in the NFL in scoring (21.1 points per game allowed), seventh in total defense (320.0 total yards per game allowed), 12th in passing (210.2 passing yards per game allowed), 10th in rushing (109.8 rushing yards per game), second in third-down efficiency (34.1% conversion rate allowed) and second in red zone efficiency (51.1% red zone touchdown rate allowed).