Adapt and prosper or die in stubbornness
Coaches that win on all levels and are often referred to as ‘geniuses’ have one common trait; the ability to adapt or be flexible with what they have to work with. It’s what we often call ‘getting the most out of their players’. So how do the great coaches do it, while all the others fail in pursuit of greatness? By conquering their own stubbornness.
The examples would be coaches that are married to high power passing games but come into situations where they don’t have the personnel to succeed through the air. But maybe they have the makings of a team that can run the ball. The ability to conquer their own ego by setting aside their preferred scheme to work with what they have while trying to acquire the players necessary to open things up, allows their team the greatest chances of success.
Or how about a defensive coach that prefers to run a 3-4 defense, but doesn’t have talent at linebackers so he adjusts to a 4-3 while trying to find the missing pieces.
I’m not saying that it’s easy, because sometimes there is no good route to go while re-building, but using the players a coach has available is a system that best features the talent on the team is the best way to get the most success out of their roster.
This will be Matt Patricia’s biggest step yet and the only way he will be able to navigate the Lions to that winning record that is expected of him next year.
Patricia demonstrated some growth last offseason by hiring offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell which he deserves credit for.
While Bevell hasn’t been perfect, his system was getting the most out of Matthew Stafford before his back injury ended his season. The ground game has been sporadic and not as reliable as Patricia or the fans would like, but there has at least been a pulse and maybe some interesting components in Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough to work with next season.
So the real question is: Can Matt Patricia bring himself to cut ties with his long-time friend and mentor Paul Pasqualoni as well as some of the other debris on the defensive staff?
If he can do so and be open-minded enough to search for assistants with new ideas that could help transform this defense into a more effective unit with a chance to grow into something very good, then he may very well start to get the results expected of him.
Patricia’s defense is complicated and even when he added an influx of talent that either had experience in this same defense or were good fits for it, they simply seem unable to execute it.
There comes a time when the smartest man in the room proves how smart he is by embracing a new idea that possibly fits his personnel better and has the potential to succeed where his own methods have failed.
The Lions need more talent at linebacker, defensive line, especially a dangerous edge rusher and in the secondary. Yet they do have enough talent to be better than what they currently are. It’s a matter of better use of the pieces in that locker room.
So after last offseason’s growth, will Matt Patricia be able to take that next big step and conquer his own stubbornness? The answer to that question will probably determine the fate of the Detroit Lions next year even more than who they draft or sign in free agency.
Despite how much the Patriots dynasty has dominated the NFL over the last 20 years, other teams with different systems have also won titles and even beaten the Patriots in the Super Bowl during this span.
The time has come for Patricia to be willing to be flexible and open-minded to change that could alter not only his own success but possibly the future of this abysmal franchise.