For coach Matt Patricia to turn the Lions into a perennial playoff team, he has to build a solid relationship with quarterback Matthew Stafford.
He knows it, we know it. Now it has to happen.
With three days of organized team activities behind them, it appears that Matt and Matthew are off to good start.
Stafford down-played the fact that Patricia comes from the defensive side of the ball. It’s not a first. His first Lions’ head coach, Jim Schwartz, was also a former defensive coordinator. The quarterback also had a good relationship with former defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.
“You know, it’s not like I’ve never talked to (former Lions defensive coordinator) Teryl Austin or any of those guys too. It is, it’s always unique. Every defensive coach kind of has their own philosophy. I’m sure Coach Patricia’s will be different than the guys who have been here before,’’ Stafford said on Thursday. “It’s always fun to kind of pick the brain of the other side and see what they’re seeing and what they’re trying to take away and what they’re trying to force you to do.”
Unlike the defense, the offense is still basically the same with Jim Bob Cooter in charge.
Of course, it will be tweaked just like it is every season.
So far Stafford has impressed Patricia which isn’t exactly a shocker. Patricia was asked about the differences in Stafford and Tom Brady and would not go there. (Not a shocker either.)
“Stafford’s phenomenal. He’s work hard, tough, smart and you know what’s great is when you have quarterbacks like that where you can go out and look (QB Jake) Rudock and (QB) Matt Cassel are the same guys, and you’re going out and you’re having football conversations,’’ Patricia said on Thursday.
“You’re not really having to always explain everything from a ‘let me draw this up for you’ and show you what I’m talking about, you can just have the conversations, ‘Hey if this guy’s here’ or ‘This leverage is played like this’ or ‘The DBs in this position’ or ‘The front looks like this’ and just for them to visually have those conversations with you, that’s what’s great. That’s when you know you’ve got guys who are really dialed in.’’
They appear to have quickly developed a good on-field rapport.
“He’s competitive out on the field, I’m competitive. He’s asking me non-stop, I’m talking to him non-stop. He’s out there a bunch as a head coach, kind of standing behind me looking at the defense and seeing it kind of how I see it,’’ Stafford said. “So, there’s constant back and forth of, ‘Hey, what did you see? Did this guy give it away?’ Whatever. But we’re always talking.”
It would be wrong to down-play Cooter’s role in the offense, but at the same time Patricia knows his success rides on the shoulders of No. 9.
So far, so good.
“Matthew’s unbelievable. He loves this game, like he loves football, loves to practice, loves to prepare, he wants to know as much information as possible, not only scheme-wise, he wants to know it from players, as far as the guys around him, as far as the guys on the other side of the ball,’’ Patricia said. “Different things, that I think for me that are fun to talk to him about is like there’s a little bit of a chess game that happens offensively and defensively through some of the positions and I think from that standpoint, you know, I’m looking at him saying, ‘I’m seeing this’ or ‘You’re doing this’, you know, ‘What are you seeing from this position and how do you view that’. And I think that’s all part of the growth and education of it and it’s great. It’s a lot of fun when you can do that on the field.”
The OTAs continue next week with mandatory minicamp set for June 5-7.