You may think that defensive tackle Michael Brockers would be less-than-thrilled going from a Super Bowl contending Los Angeles Rams team to a Detroit Lions team that appears in the beginning stages of a rebuild. If that’s the case, he’s certainly not showing it. This week, he joined the Jim Rome Show and was singing a different tune, thanks to a coaching staff the likes of which he’s never seen before.
“This is the first time I’ve been a part of a staff that has seven to eight, maybe double-digit, coaches on our staff that have played in the league and that’s played for a long time,” Brockers told Rome. “When you have that and you have that understanding that they have—they have an understanding of what we go through as players—so they understand that it’s going to be tough, that it’s a grind.”
Brockers is far from the first Lions player that has noted how many former players are on the Lions’ coaching staff. But Brockers’ point of view is unique in that he is coming from a successful franchise—only three teams have won more games than the Rams since 2017. He knows what it takes to win, and he’s seeing Detroit’s coaching staff take the right approach.
“The way you communicate is vital, because a lot of guys don’t want to be yelled at or screamed at and stuff like that,” Brockers said. “Some people just want you to talk to them like a man, getting an understanding of what you’re talking about and what you’re trying to teach, and then let’s roll. A lot of players in this league, we’re not about the BS. Just tell us what we’ve got to do, explain it to us in terms that we understand, though, and let’s get the job done.”
This is obviously in stark contrast to the previous regime, who ruled the team with an authoritarian fist. It’s well documented how Matt Patricia rubbed some players the wrong way, and it drove talented players like Darius Slay and Quandre Diggs onto the trading block. Brockers noted that players left over from that era are seeing the game in a different way—and that could lead to wins sooner than many are expecting.
“There’s a lot of guys coming from that ex-Patricia era, and they’re like, ‘Man, this coaching staff understands. This coaching staff talks to you, they communicate with you.’ And you see a lot of guys loving that and buying in.” Brockers said.
“When you have that, I’ve seen that turnaround from 4-12 and then going to the playoffs the following year. Man, I just think we’re off on the right foot, like I said earlier, it’s definitely going to be exciting to move forward with this team.”
He’s not exaggerating there, either. Brockers was with the Rams in 2016 during Jeff Fisher’s final season. The team flubbed and went 4-12. In came head coach Sean McVay and the Rams immediately won the NFC West with an 11-5 record. While that seems like an unrealistic goal for this Lions team, Brockers is noticing some similarities between McVay and Lions head coach Dan Campbell.
“Working with him is awesome, because he reminds me a lot of McVay and how he came in, as far as understands there’s no ego when it comes to his coaching style. It’s all about the team,” Brockers said.
That’s a lofty comparison to make, and a high bar to set. But given what we’ve heard about how poor the previous coaching staff was and how good the current one is, maybe we’re underselling the potential of this team in 2021.