Learning and listening may pay off
Next week the Detroit Lions will open the season by hosting the Chicago Bears. It will be the first opportunity to see if Matt Patricia’s team is good enough to contend in the NFC North.
While depth is still a concern, especially on the defensive line, this would appear to be a better team than last year’s version. The starting lineup has one real hole that we are concerned about at left guard, but other than that it is a competitive group.
But there is one other intangible that these Lions have going for them this season, Matt Patricia has finally won over his locker room completely.
The addition of more former Patriots who are ‘believers’ didn’t hurt, but another improvement has been Matt Patricia’s willingness to listen to his team. The best example of that was Tuesday, August 18th.
Whether fans agree or disagree with Matt Patricia allowing the Lions to take a stand against racial injustice rather than practicing, it has cemented this team together in the locker room and in their approval of Patricia.
This has become a close-knit team bonded together by more than being co-workers on a very big stage like the NFL. These are now players that have built relationships that are about more than being teammates.
The final question is; now that Matt Patricia has that close-knit locker room, will it be the intangible that gives the Lions an added boost?
Many consider Matt Patricia to be the reason behind all the Lions troubles, but he has at least learned enough to evolve from a hard-nosed ‘my way or the highway’ coach to one that has galvanized his locker room by being himself instead of trying to be Bill Belichick.
If he can carry that flexibility to game day and allow new defensive coordinator Cory Undlin to be more aggressive and help out the defensive line on the pass-rush with the blitz, then perhaps he will have done everything he could to give the Lions a chance to win.
Everyone has their own opinion about whether Matt Patricia will succeed or fail this season. His ability to learn from his past mistakes has put him in a position to possibly succeed. Now that he has his locker room singing in harmony, let’s all hope that the Lions will execute his system with the same harmony on Sundays.