Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia had a poor inaugural season. He had continual spats with the media, some were concerned his message wasn’t being received in the locker room and, most importantly to the majority of fans, he took a 9-7 team on the verge of playoffs to a 6-10 season and last place in the NFC North for the first time in six years.
One of the most specific criticisms of Patricia was the accusation that he had lost the locker room as early as training camp. There were reports that suggested the longer practices and stricter locker room rules rubbed some of the veterans the wrong way, and Patricia was having a rough transition from the Jim Caldwell era.
But one Lions veteran seems to have bought in as we enter the 2019 offseason. All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay had Patricia’s back in his latest blogpost on his Officialize site.
“It was our first year with Coach Patricia and we had to adjust to his coaching style, but they definitely hired the right guy to take us above and beyond,” Slay wrote. “We had some great wins this year, as we took down New England, Green Bay twice, and Carolina. We know how we can build on those type of wins to have more of them next season.”
It’s interesting to see Slay admit it took time to adjust to Patricia’s style—something that may give credence to the reports out of training camp—but the fact that he went out of his way to express his faith in Patricia is a good sign that the Lions head coach won over the locker room by the season’s end.
Although the season is not even two weeks in the past, Slay is already focused on 2019.
“I’m already thinking about next year man, this team rallied and fought all year only makes me excited for the 2019 year,” Slay said. “We have a lot of talent on this team and Coach is steering us in the right direction.”