The end result of the feud between the star player and the head coach explains everything that’s wrong with the Detroit Lions today.
The Darius Slay saga finally reached its inevitable conclusion the other day, with Slay sent to Philadelphia for a third and fifth round draft pick. In case you’re keeping track, that’s the top four defensive players from last year’s opening day roster who have been shipped off or released from the Detroit Lions.
Slay has not been shy about sharing his side of the story, and as more details come out about his fractured relationship with head coach Matt Patricia, the trade becomes harder and harder for me to stomach. At this point, the roster looks worse off than last year. And to hear that the Lions’ best defensive player in years is gone in large part because the head coach seems to have such a deficient way of communicating with people is sickening.
Detroit wasn’t big enough for the two of them
Given the choice between the two, do you stick with the three-time Pro Bowl player who’s still in his prime, or the guy who has completely sunk what was actually a decent team when he arrived? If Slay and Matt Patricia were indeed fractured beyond repair and one of them had to go, who in their right mind would choose Patricia?
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to take it easy on Bob Quinn and Patricia. I made it halfway through March, but I’m breaking it now.
Slay gave seven productive, and in many cases exceptional, years to the city and the organization. He was as beloved for his enthusiasm in engaging with the Detroit community off the field as for locking down an entire half of the turf when on it.
Patricia has a minuscule chance to last more than three, and that chance is likely shrinking by the day. His team had literally three truly impressive showings in 32 games. One of those was still a loss (the Kansas City Chiefs last year), and I’ve always suspected that one (New England Patriots, 2018) was a gift from Uncle Belichick to save his protege’s job after a horrendous opening stretch in charge.
While Patricia seemingly alienates everyone around him and ensures that the best players want out, that leaves the 2018 Miami Dolphins game as the one and only moment that Belichick Jr. can truly hang his hat on. This is fitting, considering that the Dolphins are exactly what the Lions seem determined to be: the guys that can beat the Patriots if nothing is on the line. Nothing more.
If I didn’t love them so much…
Was Slay a cancer to the Lions? Before Patricia arrived, no way. Last year? Maybe. Has Patricia been a cancer to the Lions, almost from the moment he arrived? Unquestionably.
Whoever is still blind enough to have faith in the current management, go ahead and let the negative comments fly. “We need a culture change”, and all that. Let me sign off with a real world example though, one that helps explain why I’m so angry about how the Slay-Patricia feud was resolved …
Let’s say your brand new, grossly underperforming, nepotism-aided middle manager at the office spoke to you the way Patricia allegedly spoke to Slay, the original tipping point for the deterioration of their relationship.
Let’s say you’ve been with the company for a long time and have earned some of the highest recognition for your particular line of work. The underperforming middle manager tells you you’re not that good, and shouldn’t consider yourself as such.
Then he openly disrespects you in front of all your co-workers, making vulgar innuendos at you. You took your grievance to the top, and the big boss took the middle manager’s side. So of course you got mad and told a few people who would listen, and you kept doing your job at a high level, while the manager only got worse and worse. Then when something finally had to give, you are the one who ends up getting transferred. How does that make your company look?
I should look on the bright side. At least now we have two extra middle round picks to waste. If I didn’t love the Detroit Lions so much, I would hate them so much right now.