Football, Top Story

BC’s Paul Pasqualoni Hired as Detroit Lions’ New Defensive Coordinator

On Tuesday afternoon, former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was officially named the new head coach of the Detroit Lions. Just a few hours earlier, the team announced that the 43-year-old will be bringing one of his longtime mentors along for the ride: Boston College football defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni.

Pasqualoni’s name was first linked to the Lions when NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that the organization was targeting him a bit more than a week before Super Bowl LII. Then, on Monday night, Yahoo! Sports’s Pete Thamel reported that Pasqualoni was indeed joining Detroit’s staff. The Lions made the news official on Tuesday, issuing a press release that Pasqualoni is leaving the collegiate ranks and returning to the NFL for his third stint as a defensive coordinator.

The move wraps up the 46-year coaching veteran’s two-season tenure at BC (2016-17), where he served under current head coach Steve Addazio and molded both Harold Landry and Zach Allen into NFL prospects. In Pasqualoni’s first season on the Heights, Landry broke out, recording a nation-leading 16.5 sacks and earning a spot on the Walter Camp All-American Second Team. This past year, it was Allen’s time to shine. The defensive end was one of two lineman in the country to rack up 100 or more tackles, practically tripling his sophomore year total. Players like Landry and Allen have frequently cited Pasqualoni’s teachings when talking about their development at the collegiate level.

The Cheshire, Conn. native’s coaching career began in 1972. Ten years later, he got his first head coaching gig at Western Connecticut State. In 1987, he packed his bags and journeyed to Syracuse, N.Y. to work as the Orange’s linebackers coach. Eventually, he was promoted to head coach. Over the span of 13 years, Pasqualoni compiled a 107-59-1 record at Syracuse, leading the Orange to four Big East titles and seven ranked finishes—a resume good enough to get him a job with the Dallas Cowboys the upcoming season.

After three seasons as a position coach in Dallas, Pasqualoni was hired as the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator, but he was fired following his second season with the team (2009)—one in which the Dolphins’ defense gave up 24.4 points per game. Pasqualoni returned to Dallas in 2010, this time as a defensive line coach. When then-head coach Wade Phillips was canned mid-season, Pasqualoni was named interim defensive coordinator. He held that title for all of eight games—once the season ended, he made the trek back to his home state to coach the University of Connecticut. Yet, three years later, he limped back to the NFL with a 10-18 record hanging over his head. Before landing at BC, Pasqualoni spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans, respectively, doing what he knows best—coaching the guys up front.

Without Pasqualoni, BC will have to find a replacement for one of the program’s most vital coaching jobs. In recent years, a stout defensive line has provided the backbone for the team’s renowned defense. Considering that not only Allen, but also defensive end Wyatt Ray and nose tackle Ray Smith are coming back for their senior campaigns, the vacancy has to be enticing.

Featured Image by Tiger Tao / Heights Staff

February 7, 2018