As a former member of the New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski knew Matt Patricia well. The tight end had several fun moments and run ins with his former defensive coordinator for years.
Gronkowski, as a result, has a strong feeling about one of his former coaches and his chances of succeeding with the Detroit Lions. Speaking at the Super Bowl with the Detroit Free Press, the current Fox Sports analyst was asked about Patricia and his future with the team. As Gronkowski said, he’s got all the personality traits to be a great coach for the team.
“He’s a great guy. Like I said, he had a lot of fun every time we were with him. Talking trash with each other, he had a great personality out there,” Gronkowski said in the video.
As for the elephant in the room, if Patricia can win with the Lions, Gronkowski doesn’t think that is much of a debate at all.
“I definitely think he can win. I think any coach can win. You have to keep on going, find the right formula, keep on grinding and not let down,” he said.
Rob Gronkowski Tells Epic Matt Patricia Story
Perhaps Gronkowski’s best story involving Patricia came when he was playing for the Patriots. The defensive coordinator got so frustrated at the tight end during a goal line drill that he tried to physically stop him with a trash can. The Patriots’ offense was working over the Patriots’ defense one day, and Patricia simply wasn’t having it anymore.
“The drill is advantage offense,” Gronkowski explained. “Patricia is there, the trash cans are the lineman. We’re scoring. All of a sudden, he just can’t handle it. I release and he chucks the garbage can at me at my feet. It was classic. I just started talking garbage to him right there. I don’t even think I finished my route.”
Though Gronkowski didn’t get hurt on the drill, a major chance existed for that to happen had he tripped and fell, the irony of which was not lost on one of the most important players on the team at the time.
“If I did get hurt, he would have been fired,” Gronkowski said with a laugh.
Matt Patricia’s Lions Tenure
Patricia came to the Lions fresh off success in New England in 2018, and struggled out of the gate to capture the attention of the locker room. A bumpy start paved the way to a more solid finish in 2018 with the team only winning six games, but defeating squads like the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers, which offered hope.
Patricia has helped the Lions stay in games for the most part in 2019, something which the team struggled with in 2018, but has not gotten them over the hump at closing. That’s perhaps his biggest wart so far as a boss, combined with a lousy defense that has not picked up the program whatsoever. Patricia might get more of a pass considering the absurd amount of injuries he’s dealt with, but it’s hard to ignore that in his tenure as coach, the Lions have had the same discipline problems plague them that always have through the years.
The bet was that both Patricia and Bob Quinn would get a mulligan on 2019 considering the rash of injuries that have set the team back, while also living with the understanding that 2020 is likely the make or break year for this group.
It might not be what Lions fans wanted to hear, but it always seemed like the likely outcome.
Clearly, anyone who’s played for Patricia can vouch for the coach and his abilities like Gronkowski has done.