A few weeks ago on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia admitted his first year was a bit of a whirlwind. Having not only played in the Super Bowl in 2017—shortening his offseason considerably—Patricia also had to deal with coming into an unfamiliar roster, a slew of coaches he’d never met, and the typical anxieties that come with being a first-time head coach.
“You just really feel like you’re really far behind and trying to get everything going in the right direction,” Patricia said. “So, it was full catch-up mode last year, 100 percent trying to keep your head above water. Like I’ve said, it was like drinking from the fire hose—you’re trying to just hang in there as long as you can.”
Now things are a lot different. He has the benefit of a full offseason, a coaching staff he’s a little more comfortable with, and a roster filled with players he knows. And, perhaps more importantly, players who know him.
Does that mean Patricia will slow down, take a step back and teach a little less, seeing as the culture is starting to take over?
Not a chance.
“I’m probably actually teaching more,” Patricia said of Year 2.
While the foundation was laid last year, Patricia says his second year is where the team is now ready to internalize the finer points of what he wants. That requires more, not less, work of him and his players.
“It’s kind of like anything, the second time you hear it, the third time you hear it, you pick up other nuances or details or other important information,” Patricia said. “The first time you hear it, you’re trying to absorb all of it. Maybe now that you have a basis or fundamental or a little bit of a knowledge behind it, now you start to pick up the minute details that make a big difference out on the field. I’m just trying to make sure I’m getting all of that out to everybody.”
Coach looking like he's having a good time out there pic.twitter.com/fhGd8VXsYe— Detroit Lions (@Lions) May 23, 2019
Learning those intricacies are going to be crucial for players entering the second year under Patricia, especially players that may play such a pivotal role like Jarrad Davis and Devon Kennard. Thankfully for Detroit, they’ve got a couple of workaholics there.
“All you’ve got to do is provide him the resources and he’ll outwork anything that you can put in front of him,” Lions linebacker coach Al Golden said of Davis.
But it’s not Year 2 for everybody. Detroit had a big talent overhaul this offseason, and while many of the players brought in through free agency already have a history and familiarity with Patricia, there are a slew of rookies that don’t. Teaching first-year players is a challenge on its own.
“For us, we’re just trying to look for them to pick up as much as possible from what we’re trying to do, understand how to become a professional,” Patricia said. “A lot of it for them coming out of college, is learning how to take care of their bodies, the demand of what the day looks like from that aspect of it—scheduling—and what we’re trying to do. There’s so much they have to learn on top of just the playbook and then the fundamentals and the techniques and the vernacular of what we’re calling things.”
And that’s a cycle that will continue for every year he remains head coach. So while Patricia has a more laid-back look to him in front of the media, it appears he’ll remain the intense, hard-working coach that spends sleepless nights at the practice facility behind the scenes.