Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson offers his Matt Patricia story

Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson walks off the field after practice during the first day of training camp July 27, 2022 in Allen Park.
Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson walks off the field after practice during the first day of training camp July 27, 2022 in Allen Park. /

It’s easy to see the differences between the last two Detroit Lions head coaches, and tight end T.J. Hockenson summed up Matt Patricia with a recent story.

Dan Campbell may not cater to all tastes as the Detroit Lions head coach, but he is a genuine article and it’s clear the players will play hard for him. By the time he was fired, before his third season was over, Matt Patricia had stripped the Lions’ players of all pride in playing.

Lions safety Tracy Walker recently offered what can only be called a quintessential Matt Patricia story about his rookie skit.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson was a top-10 overall pick the year after that, No. 8 overall in 2019, so he was about as hand-picked a player as Patricia and then-general manager Bob Quinn could have had in a draft.

Hockenson recently appeared on the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast. He talked about some of the differences in playing for Campbell and Patricia. While those differences feel clear even to a relatively untrained eye, an inside perspective is always interesting and welcome.

T.J. Hockenson offers his own quintessential Matt Patricia story

Here’s Hockenson on Patricia during the podcast, via

"I was his pick. Dude liked me. He didn’t talk to me a ton outside of the meeting or anything like that. Dude outside of that was cool. But then when he got into the meeting, it was like he tried to be (Bill) Belichick. It’s just like ‘alright man, this is what we have to do today, the hard way is the right way.’ That is true, it really is,”"

That Patricia tried to replicate Bill Belichick in Detroit is not breaking news, and neither is the notion he lacked good interpersonal skills. Hockenson went on to contrast that with Campbell, noting the current Lions head coach and a lot of his staff are former NFL players, so they understand the grind.

"On the same hand, there’s a player vibe with Campbell. Like, dude has played. Dude understands what it is,” Hockenson said. “Still, hard way is the right way. We’re going to practice hard, we’re going to do a lot of hard things, but on the same hand, he’s going to take care of us in certain situations. Because he knows what it is.”"

Nothing Hockenson had to say is surprising, and he said he had no personal beef with Patricia like some players did.

Right or wrong Campbell is doing things refreshingly his way, while Patricia felt he had to copy someone else’s uncopyable approach. Dfferent was what the Lions needed, and you can’t get much more different than Campbell and Patricia.

Next. Detroit Lions 53-man roster projection after first preseason game. dark