The Detroit Lions tried to fix their defensive line in 2018, and signed a player they thought would make a difference in Robert Ayers
One problem? Ayers didn’t last long with the team and left after one day. There was no reason given as it related to why at the time, but Ayers has finally broken his silence on the matter.
In an interview with Aaron Torres of the Knoxville News Sentinel, Ayers explains he had a small disagreement with the team’s coaching staff over his role on the team that led to his departure. Now that Ayers is retired, he shared a bit more about his career and his near final stop.
Here’s what Torres wrote:
“The former defensive end has been living in Tampa since he played for the Buccaneers in the 2016-17 NFL seasons. He signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions in August 2018, practiced on a Monday but was released by the team the next day.
“Let’s just say me and the head coach (Matt Patricia) didn’t agree. There were some things he wanted me to do that I didn’t feel comfortable with,” Ayers said. “We just weren’t on the same page and it didn’t work out. He’s a tremendous coach, a brilliant mind. There’s a lot of things that was great about the Detroit Lions organization, but it was just something that we didn’t agree on.
“We can leave it at that. I’m not going to get into specifics on what we didn’t agree on.”
No specifics are given and it’s likely the disagreement had something to do with scheme or what the team expected from Ayers who was a veteran player coming to fill a specific role. The good news? As he said, he still respects the Lions team and their staff even in spite of leaving.
As it turns out, Ayers, who put up 35 sacks and 257 tackles during his time in the league, wouldn’t end up playing again and retired. He simply wasn’t ready to do what the Lions were asking him to do in the end.
Zach Zenner Shares Thoughts on Matt Patricia
Some will see this Ayers quote as another slight on Matt Patricia. Others have spoken up, though, and proved that the coach is still doing a solid job running a fair team. How exactly is Patricia running it, and what’s the difference in style with Jim Caldwell? Recently, running back Zach Zenner was a guest on The Michael Rothstein Show, and explained on the ESPN writer’s podcast what he thinks is the difference in style between coaches.
“With Caldwell, you were expected to perform and do your best not only for him but your teammates. Both parties were from a position of respect,” Zenner said. “Meaning he respected you as a professional that you were going to need to do what you had to do to prepare. You needed to respect him and his vision for the team and follow through accordingly. In my opinion, Patricia’s leadership style is a position of fear. Not so much mutual respect, but more you need to have respect for him and believe in what he needs to do. If you don’t, they’ll find someone who does. It’s more a fear based leadership style.”
As for what he thinks is more successful, Zenner admitted he wasn’t sure, but did say Patricia gets a bit of a bad reputation for not caring about his players.
“I will say, there’s been a lot said about coach Patricia, what he does, what has happened. I personally never had a problem with him,” Zenner said. “He’s just coaching in a style he knows that he’s been with. I think he does care about the players, but he cares about winning more. He cares about the team more. At the end of the day, for him it’s about winning.”
Clearly, there is a bit of a different edge which drives Patricia, but both coaches are about trying to get the win at the end of the day, even if they arrive there under different methods. It remains to be seen if Patricia’s style can win out in Detroit.
Glover Quin Explains Playing For Matt Patricia
Former safety Glover Quin, who played with Patricia in 2018 before he retired, joined the Surf & Turf Podcast from Barstool Sports a few months ago and explained what it was like to meet Patricia for the first time and play for the coach. He saw a lot of the same attributes as Zenner.
As he said, Patricia is a good person, but he has an edge about him in the building which can make it difficult to deal with him.
“He’s a very nice guy. He’ll talk to you. He makes it easy to talk to. Seems like he cares a lot about people, so he definitely had that quantity. But then all of a sudden you get on the practice field, the meeting room, a switch goes off and he’s a completely different guy,” Quin said in the clip.
According to Quin, Patricia wanted to put his stamp on the team very early upon coming to the Lions, and came in with an attitude immediately.
“I think one of the biggest things is humility. (Jim) Caldwell came in and basically changed the culture humbly. I feel like Patricia came in, and he came from New England, and they have whatever,” Quin said. “I think instead of him coming in and humbly gaining the respect of the players, I think he came in and kind of had a negative attitude about Detroit. Like, kind of probably what most of the world thinks about that.”
Quin admitted that he had seen plenty of change in Detroit going from Jim Schwartz to Jim Caldwell to Patricia as a head coach, and he felt the team was in a bit better shape than Patricia may have given them credit for upon coming to Detroit.
“I kind of felt like from 2013-2017, the culture in Detroit had changed. The culture was different. We went to two playoff games, we were right at 9-7, I think we had a year we went 10-6. We were right there playing against Green Bay at the end for division titles, so wasn’t like we were a dumpster fire of a team,” he said. “We had a good quarterback, good offensive pieces, a good defense. I kind of felt like Patricia came in and thought everything here is trash and I just have to do a total re-haul of everything.”
Patricia, for his part, has maintained that it takes time to change a culture completely and get a program going, and it’s true tons of the players speaking out were more comfortable with Caldwell’s style of leadership and change is to be expected. Still, Quin’s comments are interesting. Obviously, the team is gambling on Patricia’s style eventually paying off and leading the franchise over the top, even if it still hasn’t.
Players like Ayers, Zenner and Quin don’t have antything against Patricia personally. Sometimes, his style and expectations simply don’t mesh with everyone.