Matt Patricia said a lot of good things during his introductory press conference with the Lions in Detroit on Wednesday. He reminded Lions fans, unless they didn’t already know, that he could have been a rocket scientist. The bushy, haggard look was deceiving.
But instead of rolling into Detroit with the same getup, a freshly cut, properly-dressed Patricia took the podium in Detroit with only his signature pencil behind the ear as the last visual trace of his time as Patriots defensive coordinator. Now the Lions head coach, Patricia sounded like a guy who wants to establish his own identity and culture while retaining everything valuable that he learned from Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
Obviously, like he was with the Krafts and the Pats organization, Patricia offered effusive thanks and praise for Belichick.
“There are not enough words that I can put together to thank you for everything that you’ve done for my family, for my career personally,” said Patricia. “I appreciate you, and I appreciate our time together so much.”
✅✏️— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) February 7, 2018
Matt Patricia made himself comfortable at his introductory press conference. pic.twitter.com/7WZaK0MyjE
“There’s Only One Coach Belichick”
Asked about what he plans not to take from his tutelage with the Patriots, Patricia made it clear that he doesn’t want to be just a Belichick clone.
“There’s only one coach Belichick,” said Patricia. “He’s amazing. [But] he’s in New England. I’m Matt Patricia. I’m my own guy. I have my own style. But I’ll take all those lessons about how to teach and coach that we had in New England that I think are strong.”
So he won’t necessarily be as much of a curmudgeon in his press conferences. His engaging performance on Wednesday is a good indication of that. But if he doesn’t win a lot of games, his personality won’t really matter. He certainly couldn’t pull the Belichick act if he can’t bring the Belichickian winning with it.
Another notable quote from Patricia when asked about how he plans to handle play-calling duties: “The good thing about being the head coach is any time I want to call a play, I’ll call it.” Sounds like he didn’t have as much latitude calling defensive plays with the Patriots as he would’ve liked. Perhaps not in crucial situations, anyway. But that’s not necessarily a shot at Belichick, just an expression of excitement that he can call his own plays whenever he wants. We shall see how he does with that when he actually gets into game situations.
Patricia was also asked about the “Patriot Way.” His response, in part: “We have a long way to go before we have any particular kind of ‘way’.” So he’s at least saying, in strong terms, that he does not want to just be a substandard facsimile of Belichick.
No Super Bowl Questions
Obviously, there are a lot of good-to-great qualities that Patricia should take from Belichick. But to be an exact copy would probably be a mistake. He should try to be his own guy like he said. So good for him. He’s earned a reputation as a good leader and he’s definitely got a big ol’ brain to work with.
There will be a lot of chatter in New England about why the Detroit media didn’t ask Patricia about Malcolm Butler or the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss. Maybe there was already a memo that he wouldn’t answer questions about that. But it’s still surprising that no one even tried. He didn’t need to be peppered repeatedly like he would’ve been here. But not a single question about the biggest story in the NFL right now, which is directly linked to the defense that he coordinated, justifiably raises some eyebrows.
Still, that game is over and Patricia is starting a new era in Detroit. It really doesn’t matter how his defense performed with the low-end collection of talent he was left with in the Super Bowl. He’s taking over a new defense and what really matters is how they play in 2018 and beyond. It remains to be seen what Patricia takes and doesn’t take from Belichick, and whether it translates to him becoming the strongest branch yet of the Belichick coaching tree.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.