In the NFL, just like in life, there are many different ways to motivate people in life. Some prefer a more direct, aggressive approach, while others are better off when gently guided in the right direction.
If Detroit Lions players haven’t learned this by now, they are certainly getting a crash course this offseason. After years under Jim Caldwell, who maintained a calm—some would say professional—tone during practices, new head coach Matt Patricia is bringing an entirely different attitude towards teaching.
We’ve seen clips before of Patricia verbally laying into his players on the Patriots’ sideline, but many in Detroit were surprised to see his soft voice and friendly demeanor when introduced in front of the local media. We haven’t seen that competitive, intense side of Patricia yet.
Until this week.
Several members of the Lions media noted just how—let’s say—colorful Patricia was during Wednesday’s minicamp practice.
He did a bit of yelling on Tuesday too, but really unloaded Wednesday when a group of players was slow to transition from one field to another for a drill. Team rules prohibit reporters from quoting coaches from practice, but I couldn’t have quoted him even if I were allowed to.
Patricia sent both the offense and defense back to the respective fields they were working on while running through an early-practice installation Wednesday, and made them run back to the end zone he was standing near.
The Lions’ media policy forbids reporters from quoting coaches during practice, but let’s just say an animated Patricia used some colorful language to get his point across.
Patricia’s fiery demeanor isn’t completely new to some Lions players. Those that were around when Jim Schwartz was head coach are certainly familiar with a little heat coming from their coach. And Patricia’s approach is far from rare among coaches at all levels of football.
But there’s no doubt this is a bit of a change in culture from the last head coach. Caldwell, as Birkett notes, never cursed at his players during open practices. You would rarely see him upset on the sidelines during gameday, either.
There are obviously benefits and drawbacks to this kind of shift. Coaches lead by example, and if their players follow suit, they could occasionally get too emotional in game and make a mental mistake. On the other hand, that kind of intensity is often required of football players to be successful, and, as mentioned before, some people thrive off of that kind of motivation.
Either way, there’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s not afraid to use some colorful language to get his point across.