ALLEN PARK — With the coaching change bringing Matt Patricia in as head coach for the Detroit Lions, changes were inevitable. That was the whole point.
Recently it’s been reported that the New England Patriots, where Patricia spent the last 14 seasons, don’t have fun at practice. “I think for us we’re just trying to go out there and get better. I think that’s the main focus for us. We’re trying to improve. We’re trying to learn. We’re trying to do a better job than we did the day before and that’s really the main focus for us,’’ Patricia said.
After three days of mandatory minicamp, here are a few observations on Patricia
1. Wasn’t a surprise when Patricia was asked about rookie fullback Nick Bawden going down at practice on Wednesday. He won’t talk injuries. His reply when asked about Bawden on Thursday morning: “At football practice we’re trying to make sure everyone is put in the best position possible. I don’t have any comment or discussion about anything in that situation. Just unfortunately he couldn’t finish practice. In general, for me, for everybody here injuries will be something that we definitely don’t talk about outside of our own little world. …” He went on and on. It’s his way of saying, “Check the report.” This has been modus operandi for Lions coaches going back to at least Jim Schwartz. Although Schwartz was a little more forthcoming with injury info than Caldwell. Expect Patricia to be more evasive. Just an educated guess – it’s the Patriot way. Patricia, like Schwartz, is in his first stint as an NFL head coach.
2. Which player will start where? First, it’s too early to know in many cases. Second, Patricia will not reveal. Many fans were frustrated that they couldn’t get more information out of Caldwell. Guess what? Patricia could be more tight-lipped. He has changed since his introductory press conference.
3. Patricia is all about football. It’s early and it’s key that he gets his points across to the 90 players on the roster. Getting to know players off the field? Not on his current agenda, but that could happen with training camp. In his first year, Jim Caldwell took all the different position groups out to dinner — let them pick the restaurants. Not uncommon for coaches to try to bond with players and we’ll might see that down the road.
4. Minicamp drills are shorter than previously. Players move around the three fields more often. Patricia’s goal is to keep them working and squeeze every minute out of his available time with them. He’s mentioned several times that he is constrained in time (by the NFL collective bargaining agreement). “I would say that’s probably the biggest frustration from that standpoint,’’ Patricia said.
5. Patricia has a booming voice and not afraid to express frustration on the field to his players. Let’s just say he uses colorful language to make a point. It’s a significant difference over the past four years. Good? Bad? Too early to tell.