Detroit Lions Behind the Beard: Matt Patricia’s technique
A lot of chatter is being made about Matt Patricia making the Detroit Lions run more than previous coaches. All of that noise is much ado about nothing.
In 2011, 2014, 2016, and 2017 the Detroit Lions squared off against the Green Bay Packers in Week 17. Two of those games (2014, 2016) played out as the de facto NFC North championship game with the Lions coming up short in both moments.
For one reason or another, Detroit couldn’t dig deep enough within themselves in order to find that winning formula to beat Green Bay when it mattered most. The Lions finally defeated Green Bay in Week 17 last season but it was a hollow victory because Aaron Rodgers was out for that game and Detroit’s 2017 playoff hopes had been shattered well prior to that game’s kickoff.
The disturbing trend that immediately pops for me out is that when Detroit held their destiny in their own hands, twice they faltered towards the end of the season because they didn’t have anything left in their reserves to power them forward. A lack of focus and execution and perhaps a lack of stamina prevented them from achieving crucial wins during the final week of the regular season.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia has wasted no time in working towards ensuring that his team has what it takes to not only finish games strong but the season as well. He began his efforts by making his team engage in a basic activity that most begin to take for granted at the professional level…he ran them. He ran them a lot and is continuing to do so throughout training camp.
For some odd reason, the fact that Patricia is making this year’s Lions squad run more laps than either Jim Schwartz or Jim Caldwell ever did during their own tenures as Detroit’s head coach set the internet ablaze more than a month ago.
Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press, posted his take on it here. 12up.com scribe, Garnet Crocker also posted a hot take on the subject here.
We are all entitled to our own opinions but with all due respect, I think some folks have missed the point a little bit. Jim Schwartz came into Detroit and gave them an edge. Within three years of the franchise going 0-16, Schwartz guided his team to the playoffs but his teams were also infuriating with their levels of indiscipline and lack of focus during big moments.
And though Jim Caldwell was the polar opposite of his predecessor, bringing with him calmness and levels of dignity and respectability, the same indiscipline and lack of focus also dogged his teams. The common thread between both of those coaches’ teams was their inability to pull off big wins.
Coach Patricia’s predecessors in Detroit were both known as “players coaches” who didn’t always hold the players’ feet to the fire.
This is primarily what Matt Patricia was brought in to change. He is attempting to continue Detroit’s culture change from laughingstock to legit contender to (hopefully) championship level. He was brought in to get the Lions over the hump.
New England head coach/general manager Bill Belichick learned under one of the greatest NFL coaches of all time in Bill Parcells. In turn, Matt Patricia spent his entire professional career in New England at the side of and learning from Belichick who surpassed his mentor and whom most football aficionados would consider as the greatest NFL coach of his generation.
Coach Patricia is not simply trying to recreate New England’s formula in Detroit but he is indeed tapping into what he learned to be tried and true methods to building a championship team that he learned in Foxborough, MA.
Belichick parlayed in New England what he learned from Parcells as they won Super Bowls with the New York Giants and Patricia is attempting to parlay in Detroit what he learned from Belichick as they won Super Bowls in New England.
Matt Patricia is upping the physical intensity of camp and he is ensuring that if nothing else, his teams will be well-conditioned for the season. By putting in all of the extra work right now in the summer, Detroit should reap the benefits of their efforts this fall.
Patricia is also keen on implementing and reinforcing mental aspects of the game and not just solely on the more physical aspects. By taking the time to focus on cerebral football, it is hoped that the Lions will be able to put it all together both physically and mentally in order to execute during critical moments throughout the season.
Maybe this year, as a result of Matt Patricia’s offseason technique, when the Detroit Lions roll into Lambeau Field during Week 17 to face off against Green Bay (once again with their playoff future presumptively on the line) they will maintain a mental and physical edge over the Packers in order to achieve a huge win that has eluded them so many times before.