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O'HARA: Patricia hire a major piece to Quinn's puzzle

Matt Patricia was the man in the spotlight, and rightfully so.

As the new head coach of the Detroit Lions, introduced Wednesday at a press conference at the team's headquarters that had a proper mix of new-age marketing and basic football, Patricia deserved to be the main attraction.

And in his first major duties as a head coach in the NFL, he did nothing to indicate that he's not ready to be a head coach. He was smart and sharp, and made eye contact in answering questions posed by the media.

Patricia represents another new beginning in the Lions' long search for the right formula that will make them legitimate Super Bowl contenders – and with one giant difference from nearly all the others who've come before him.

Patricia is stepping into new territory in Detroit after 14 seasons as an assistant coach of the New England Patriots, but with a familiarity of the position because of his long, close relationship with general manager Bob Quinn.

Patricia and Quinn spent a dozen years together in New England – Patricia working on the field as an assistant coach under legendary head coach Bill Belichick, and Quinn toiling in the personnel department to keep the pipeline of talent flowing to the roster.

Patricia was asked about their relationship bringing "The Patriot Way" to Detroit.

"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. We believe in a lot of the same things as far as how you look at and evaluate players, how a team should be run and how it should be coached.

"There's a great background that we both share, and obviously a common ground that we understand how we envision a team being run. That's what makes it such a great match.

"Hopefully you have some success – at that point when maybe you call it the Lions' way. We have a long way to go before we have a particular way we call our own."

View photos from Matt Patricia's tour of the Detroit Lions practice facility on his first day as the team's head coach.

Patricia represents a major addition to the puzzle Quinn has been putting together the last two seasons in his long-term vision for the Lions since being hired as GM in January of 2016.

"Philosophical alignment" is the phrase that has been used often in describing the value of the Patricia-Quinn union, and it fits.

Quinn's two-year test drive as the head of football operations has let him build a support system in his front office that should give Patricia a running start as head coach.

Take nothing away from what Jim Caldwell accomplished in his four seasons as head coach of the Lions. He restored order in the locker room and turned what had been an undisciplined team into one that had three winning records with two playoff appearances in his four years.

The Lions were respectable under Caldwell in Quinn's two years as GM, with 9-7 records both years. He handed over a better, more professional, team than the one he inherited in 2014.

But the Lions should be better suited to take a step forward because of the shared experiences of Quinn and Patricia – and the two years Quinn has spent in Detroit that should give him a head start.

Quinn talked about the two interviews he conducted with Patricia in the process to hire Caldwell's successor.

It sounded like old-fashioned football talk – two men drinking coffee out of plastic cups while watching videos of players.

"Overall, Matt's answers really were aligned with what I believe in, and what I believe will take us to that next level.

"The 12 years we worked together, there are a lot of long hours, a lot of long drives to look at players – long hours in your (Patricia's) office late at night. There were hours upon hours that were built upon those 12 years that really made the interview process in the two times we met really seamless.

"It was like we were back in his office, talking football again. It was really a good alignment."

And what could make for a good start in Detroit.

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