Back when the NFL announced each team’s offseason workout schedules, I noticed something strange. The Detroit Lions had only scheduled eight days for their voluntary organized team activities, when in previous years they’ve been allotted 10. At the time, I thought nothing of it. I figured I was miscounting or they’d add a few later, or there was some weird change in the CBA of which I was unaware.
But it turns out that, indeed, the Lions are only using a portion of their allowed OTAs this year. Why would the Lions, especially with a brand-new head coach with a brand-new scheme, not use every opportunity they can to get out there on the practice field?
Matt Patricia explained himself on Tuesday morning.
“It just depends on the team, depends on the moment,” Patricia said. “You know, as following the team through the spring, you got to be able to adjust. These guys have been here for a while. They’ve been working really hard. They’ve been consecutively trying to grind through the spring. And you might get to a phase where you have to modify and you want to adjust.”
Patricia also mentioned the importance of getting through the early portion of the offseason healthy, so that the team is getting as close to full participation as possible for training camp.
“You get to a point in the spring where you feel if you get to that point where you’ve installed all you can install, and really are at a good point, your next thing as a head coach is get to training camp healthy,” Patricia said. “You just want to go in and have training camp at its max and be able to go out there and get a great evaluation of those players. You really have to take those last weeks and evaluate it and see where you’re at and see where the team’s at.”
Another unique part of the Lions’ offseason program is the fact that the Lions are holding minicamp in the middle of Week 2 and Week 3 of OTAs. Detroit is just one of four teams holding minicamp this week, and it probably won’t surprise you that the Patriots are one of the other three. The other 28 teams will be holding minicamp after the final week of OTAs.
Teams get an extra 30 minutes of practice and meetings during minicamp, and can also practice three days in a row, instead of two days on, one day off during OTAs. Patricia said the timing was right to have those extra sessions.
“I think one of the things of having the minicamp where we have it right now that’s been a good philosophy that we’ve used in the past, is just the standpoint that you do gain the extra time on the field. You do gain the extra meeting time when you go into that minicamp mode and you’re able to go three days in a row,” Patricia said.
As for the missed opportunities to practice, some believe Patricia is making up that time by having very high intensity practices. Check out what NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero had to say about Patricia’s unorthodox methods:
New #Lions coach Matt Patricia’s offseason structure is a little unusual, but there‘s logic to it as he runs high-tempo, high-intensity practices that emphasize conditioning. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/gnW2ZW3978— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 5, 2018
“I’ve spoken with people who were around the Lions last season and this year, and they will tell you this is something the players are not really used to under Jim Caldwell,” he said. “The practices are really high intensity, they’re up-tempo.”
Whether these unique methods will pay of for the Lions remains to be seen, but we’re already starting to see some of the minor differences between Patricia and Caldwell.