Detroit Lions' Matt Patricia calls Joe Marciano firing 'necessary'
Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia shed little light Tuesday on his decision to fire special teams coordinator Joe Marciano on Monday night, other than to call the move “necessary.”
Patricia did not promote special teams assistant Devin Fitzsimmons outright, but said he would take over most of Marciano’s duties.
“We’ll handle everything in house here,” Patricia said in a conference call with reporters. “Obviously with Fitz, he’ll take over a majority of that role. But we have a lot of coaches on staff that have coached special teams before and in the past and it’ll be a collective group effort to try to make sure that everything is handled and covered from that aspect and assist in whatever areas are necessary.”
Fitzsimmons joined the Lions in 2014 as a special teams assistant and also coached tight ends in 2015. He was the special teams coordinator for Delaware in 2013.
Last season, the Lions had one of the NFL's best special-teams units, when Jamal Agnew earned All-Pro honors and returned two punts for touchdowns. The Lions led the league in punt-return average by a wide margin at 14.0 yards. Agnew is expected to miss the rest of the season after he injured his knee last month.
This year, the Lions’ special teams has been among the NFL’s worst. Their coverage units have been beset by penalties all year. In eight games, the Lions have been penalized 15 times on special teams.
Punter Sam Martin is netting a career-low 36.9 yards per punt. And opponents are averaging a league-high 20.6 yards per punt return against the Lions this year.
One play that was particularly embarrassing for the Lions’ came two weeks ago when Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson faked a punt out of his own end zone and ran for a first down on fourth-and-8.
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Patricia sidestepped a question about whether Marciano was being made out as the scapegoat for the Lions’ bigger problems that have led to a 3-5 record.
Patricia said it was difficult to replace a coordinator midway through the season and thanked Marciano, 64, for his service, which included 3 ½ years with the Lions in an NFL coaching career that began in 1986 with the New Orleans Saints.
“It’s never really an easy decision when you have to try to make a move in the middle of the season,” Patricia said. “But just kind of taking a look at the evaluation of everything so far, from what we’ve done so far in the season and moving forward, I just thought it was the best thing right now to make that move and kind of go forward without Joe.
“I have a lot of respect for Joe and appreciate all his hard work and everything he’s done in the league for a long time. He’s a great man a good person. Just thought the move was necessary.”
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