Who's Calling Timeouts For The Lions? Patricia, Sort Of

His injury has led to a rule exception from the NFL.

Will Burchfield
September 11, 2019 - 3:27 pm

© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

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Add it to the list of bizarre Lions moments. The Timeout. 

You know the story by now. Just when it looked like the Lions had clinched a season-opening win over the Cardinals, they were granted a last-second that negated a first down and let Arizona back in the game. 

What's less clear is where, exactly, the timeout came from.

It's all complicated by the fact that Matt Patricia, due to a leg injury that had him on crutches on Sunday, is forced to stand further back from the sideline than usual to avoid potential collisions with players -- and is thus compromised in his ability to get the attention of the officials. 

In the preseason, that meant that Lions chief of staff and Patricia's right-hand man Kevin Anderson was the one calling timeouts. 

Patricia said on Sunday that the timeout was his call, though television cameras showed offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell making the signal. The head coach is typically the only one on the sideline who can call a timeout, but Patricia said the Lions have worked out an agreement with the NFL given his predicament. 

"The head coach will ask the official for a timeout, and then in my case I can designate someone to do it for me if I need to," Patricia said on Wednesday.

Anderson was on the sideline wearing a headset on Sunday, though Patricia declined to say who the Lions have designated as their emergency timeout-caller. 

"I’m not going to get into all that strategic stuff as far as that’s concerned," he said. "We’re kind of moving onto the Chargers right now. I think that’s a story that I’m good with right now. I’m not really sure where we’re going with the whole timeout thing."

When pressed on the matter, Patricia said, "All that stuff, what you do is you go through the league to get approval, depending on who we want to do it during the game if I can’t physically do it." 

So why not designate a coach, instead of Anderson? 

"Just so that it’s coming from my line, so that it’s a designated person that may not be a particular coach from that standpoint," he said. 

It's not yet clear when Patricia will be back to 100 percent health. He's still using a scooter to get around the Lions training facility, and he's still riding an ATV to move about the field during practice. 

It's likely that he'll be under the same constraints as last week for the Lions home opener Sunday against the Chargers. What that means for his ability to call timeouts remains to be seen. 

But so long as it involves a second party, it will remain a story, even if Patricia wishes the whole thing would go away.