‘I’d Play for Him Today:’ Former Lions Fan Favorite Praises Matt Patricia

Zach Zenner

Getty Zach Zenner runs for a score in 2017.

Matt Patricia has taken his share of the blame for what’s happened on the field during the 2020 season for the Detroit Lions, but a voice has come out from the shadows to defend the embattled coach.

Recently, a Bleacher Report expose surfaced that painted Patricia in a rough light with regards to some former players. One of the players quoted in the piece was running back Zach Zenner. In the piece, Zenner was largely complementary of Patricia. Even in spite of that, Zenner wants folks to know exactly where he stands on his former boss.

On Twitter, Zenner explained that Patricia does care about his players and wants them to succeed. Also, he’s a quality football mind from which Zenner was able to glean some amazing information about the game. While he is not saying he agreed with everything, he understood the plan and would suit up for Patricia tomorrow if asked.

Zenner might be the best example of a former player consistently standing in Patricia’s corner. That group is few and far between, with names such as Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay hitting Patricia with shade in the months and weeks since they left Detroit.

Classy to the end, Zenner is a former fan favorite of the team, so it will be interesting to see the reception he gets for sharing this opinion with the fan base and the world.

Matt Patricia Roasted Within Bleacher Report Article

Recently, Bleacher Report writer Kalyn Kahler took an inside look at this with a comprehensive piece. Perhaps the most interesting revelation comes early from within. A few Lions players were so relieved to be done with Patricia back in 2018 that they popped champagne and sipped mimosas following the end of the season.

Here’s the story:

“One player’s agent had sent him champagne for a Christmas gift, and he had kept it in his locker, waiting for the right moment to uncork the celebration. Saying goodbye to Patricia, at least until OTAs, seemed like just the reason to party. Before the Lions’ last team meeting, mid-morning, a group of 10 to 15 players took orange juice from the cafeteria and mixed it with the champagne to make mimosas.

They chilled and sipped out of Solo cups, finally relaxing after a season of long practices, tough conditioning and routinely getting cussed at by their head coach, who had a long list of rules that a former player described as taking the fun out of the game. “It was a free-for-all,” he says. The stifling Patriot Way experience had been a culture shock many veteran players were elated to be done with.”

That’s merely the tip of the iceberg from Kahler’s piece, however. Within, she details the trouble several Lions players have had with Patricia, from his profane language early in his tenure with the team to his message, which often fell flat. A great example of that was Patricia sharing video of Cam Newton dancing attempting to motivate only for it to backfire when the team approved of his celebratory moves.

A few players are interviewed that downplay some of the tension and argue that Patricia has grown and the Lions could be on the right track. Zenner was one such player, which only makes his tweets on the matter all the more interesting after the fact. It’s also a credit to him that he tries to remain positive.

Zach Zenner Stats

In his short few year career with the Lions before being released, Zenner put up solid numbers, rushing for 685 total yards and 8 touchdowns. He became a major folk hero in the Motor City for his hard work, and that’s especially true given Zenner was studying to be a doctor around his work on the gridiron.

Fans loved Zenner for his physicality and flair. He always ground out yards and had a knack for stepping up and delivering on the big stage when many thought he couldn’t get the job done because of his small school stature. While at South Dakota State, Zenner was a hit and one of the best players on the team. From there, his relentless work ethic led to him impressing former Lions coach Jim Caldwell.

All these things simply make him one of the players that Lions fans found it easy to root for. Even as the Lions moved on, plenty of folks wanted to see the team make room for Zenner and keep him around the roster for leadership as well as the tough running and leadership he was known for.

While Zenner’s own opinion might not change any thoughts of Detroit fans about their coach, it’s certainly admirable to see him standing by something he believes in and sticking his neck out for Patricia.

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