The Detroit Lions, like plenty of other teams, have gambled on recreating “The Patriot Way” within their team, but could the biggest mistake within this have been the choice of coach?
While the jury remains out on that fact, that hasn’t stopped some from making that projection. Recently, Adam Rank broke down the state of the Lions franchise for a piece at NFL.com. Within, he made some interesting points about the team. One of the most revealing was his assertion that Brian Flores, hired after Patricia by the Miami Dolphins, is already well ahead of the coach that was perhaps more hyped in the hiring cycle.
“Let’s compare Patricia to another defensive branch off the Bill Belichick tree. Brian Flores, who had taken over the defensive play-calling duties from Patricia in New England, was hired last year as the head coach of a Dolphins team at the outset of a dismantle/rebuild. And while Miami’s front office was busy trading talent for future draft currency, Flores fielded a team that was competitive, a lot of fun to watch and kind of ended the Patriots dynasty under Tom Brady by shocking them in the season finale. Sure, the Fins went just 5-11, but they improved over the course of the year. In December, people were talking up Flores as Coach of the Year material for clearly getting the most out of an overmatched roster.
The 2019 Lions didn’t manage many moral victories, much less real wins. Patricia’s 9-22-1 through his first two seasons in the big chair. Jim Caldwell, the man Patricia replaced, averaged nine wins per season in Detroit. So, um, how’s that culture change going?”
So far it hasn’t gone well for Patricia in Detroit, but obviously, the sample size is quite small for the pair. It’s true Flores didn’t have a lot to work with in 2019, but neither did Patricia considering the injuries he had to deal with. Flores came into the league with plenty of questions, but it didn’t take him long to answer some. Patricia still has some to answer himself. Truthfully, things with this duo could go either way in the future.
Right now, though, Flores might just have the upper hand.
Oday Aboushi Praises Matt Patricia’s Lions Culture
Not everyone is so sure that Patricia’s culture is rotten. Take Oday Aboushi, one of the team’s offensive linemen. At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Patricia phoned Aboushi, a native New Yorker, just to show he cared and wanted to see how his player was doing given he was located in a hot spot. It was a gesture that meant a lot to the lineman and still resonates to this day as the team’s unique offseason has progressed.
Joining Good Morning Football, Aboushi was asked to talk a bit about his head coach and what makes him unique. He cited the call during a national pandemic, a moment when the player hadn’t even reached out to the coach for any communication himself.
.@Oday_Aboushi75 on Matt Patricia this offseason:
"He reached out to me when everything first happened, knowing I'm in New York City. He reached out to check on me, see how I'm doing, if I needed anything, if my family was OK. I've never really had that happen with a head coach" https://t.co/RCAhNvdezS
— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) June 24, 2020
Aboushi also said that he noticed from the beginning family was vital for Patricia, something which he sees as different and a huge determining factor in what sets him apart in his profession.
“I think the biggest difference right off the bat with Patricia is he cares,” Aboushi said. “He cares more than football, more that statistics. He cares about you as a player, as a man and as a family. Him being a New York guy, he’s big on family and the east coast vibe as family is everything. He treats football the same way.”
Many have had their public differences with Patricia in the last few months, but it’s clear this offseason has brought this version of the Lions together in a very impressive way. The coach has been taking command as a leader and to the players, it’s been impressive.
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 Quinn 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.
How well Patricia’s career trends will be fun to monitor with Flores in mind.