I swear to god I'm not trolling here. I know Patricia content is low-hanging fruit, and it's not a good look to keep re-visiting a shitty ex just to bag on the guy...
But this tweet popped up in my timeline and it got me thinking about Patricia's time in Detroit:
Let the record show that the Patriots' first padded period using the Shanahan run scheme was an abject disaster, among the worst I've seen covering the league.— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) August 1, 2022
2 yard run
Good + run
Nowhere to go but up!
If you've been (wisely) purposefully ignoring all Matt Patricia content since he was fired from the Lions, you may not know he's been appointed as New England's new OC, with Josh McDaniels taking the Raiders head coaching job. Patricia's background prior to coming to Detroit was more of a defensive coach, so moving to the other side of the ball was a surprise.
I'll add a caveat that, yes, this was the first padded practice under a new offensive scheme, but Bedard is an experienced beat writer and said basically that even under those standards it was terrible. The thing is, Patricia was here in Detroit for 3 years and we heard all the excuses before - it's a new system, the players are still adjusting, we don't have the right types of players for this system, etc. Belichick seems to be grooming Patricia to take over for when he retires, but I wonder exactly how much leash he'll get before Bill cuts him off at the knees. I can just see Patricia insisting on recasting the Pats' entire OL, because the current players aren't the "right type" to run the Shanahan outside zone-blocking scheme. In fact, I'd put the over/under at week 7 for some version of that quote to appear.
Matt Patricia's approach to drawing up a scheme - at least on defense, early signs point to this being the case on offense as well - called to mind Operation Market Garden. I'm not going to bore you with a long history lesson, though the movie A Bridge Too Far is a good watch if you're interested in the story. Basically, a few months after D Day, the allies were looking for a way into Germany, and Field Marshall Montgomery proposed this "single thrust" advance through occupied Holland. There were a lot of moving pieces, a lot of incorrect assumptions, and a reliance on everything working exactly as drawn up. ***Spoiler alert - it didn't.***
Eisenhower himself said the plan was crazy, though he did approve it after Montgomery's assurances. Intel about stronger German resistance than was originally expected got ignored. The generals planning the operation didn't understand the limitations of their equipment, so there were massive communications breakdowns... But the biggest flaw in Market Garden was the dependence on a series of bridges being captured intact and the entire column being able to advance up one road. If any one of those parts of the operation were to fail, the entire op would be on its ass.
Now think about Patricia's defense here in Detroit - it required perfect coverage, perfect contain, and every one of the 11 guys on the field to understand where they were supposed to be. However, that assignment could change based on a formation shift on the offense or a defensive play call. How often did we see experienced corners like Trufant in the wrong place? Tracy Walker didn't know where to be half the time, or he was stuck trying to make up for the fact that our LBs couldn't cover at all.
Like Market Garden, Patricia's defense depended on many different elements working exactly right (under a basically flawed premise to begin with), and the failure of one would cause a system-wide failure. Time will tell if he's making the same mistake with New England's offense, but the very early indications are that he is.