By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
As if the Detroit Lions and their local media could’ve used any more proof of how desperately they need a winning program, look no further than reporter Carlos Monarrez’s latest column in the Detroit Free-Press.
The article ran with the headline: “Detroit Lions’ Matt Patricia is in danger of losing his players”. Already??? Monarrez backed up his audacious claim, which comes about halfway during the team’s offseason workouts, by arguing that Patricia is going to lose the team because he’s … making them run laps.
“Patricia’s tactic smacked of amateurism and even though it was generally downplayed as an innocuous slap on the wrist, I can guarantee you most players don’t care for it,” Monarrez’s column reads. “For one, it’s insulting at this level. For another, it’s a waste of time.”
If making players run laps is an insulting waste of time, then maybe Monarrez would like to have a word with Bill Belichick. The Patriots head coach has long employed such tactics in New England, and he did it twice just last week at mandatory minicamp in Foxboro. He made literally everyone run a lap for committing a false start during 11-on-11 drills on the first day, then made the offense run for committing an illegal substitution on day three.
Clearly, Patricia is bringing a taste of New England to Detroit, and Monarrez and his fellow reporters aren’t used to it. Even though Patricia did say “There’s only one coach Belichick” at his introductory presser and said he’d be his own guy, he didn’t learn from any other head coaches at the professional level. So of course he’s going to take some cues from Hoodie.
The Lions, however, are not used to one of the byproducts of Belichick’s tough discipline: winning a lot of football games. Not important ones, anyway. Based on Monarrez’s bellyaching over the “insulting” nature of making underachieving pro athletes run laps, perhaps everyone there is a little too used to losing come playoff time – or missing the playoffs entirely – year after year.
Monarrez went on to even say that he misses former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, who is known around the league as one of the more likable figures. But being likable doesn’t always translate to winning, something Caldwell has never done without a quarterback named Manning. Monarrez basically said he misses Caldwell and is frustrated with Patricia because of … the press conferences.
It appears that Patricia is also taking a cue from Belichick in that he won’t give the media information that he doesn’t have to give them. You can tell by his post-minicamp press conference that he won’t talk about injuries, he’ll keep his comments to football, and take any questions about individual players and generalize them to talk about the team.
His answer on the laps and sprints, and whether they’re part of his general coaching philosophy, may have irked them more than anything:
“It’s just practice. We’re just out there practicing. I’m not really sure what was done before, but we’re just trying to practice.”
Patricia does need to win at a higher level than most Lions coaches to prove that his tactics work. It’s fair to wonder whether what worked for Belichick will work for Patricia, because it’s barely worked for anyone else. Patricia’s non-answers and demands for laps will ring hollow if they don’t translate to wins. But if they do, perhaps the Detroit media will get it. But for now, it’s still asinine that Monarrez or any other Lions reporter would doubt the methods of a new head coach who’s coming from the most successful program in the league to this degree, and essentially long for the days of losing.
For a Lions organization that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991, perhaps they could use a little more discipline. It’s simple: if they can get it together in practice, they won’t have to run. That’s what Patricia’s going for. It remains to be seen whether it will work out the way he intends. But to blame the coach right out of the gate, when the team has become the poster child for playoff futility, is ridiculous.
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.