Matt Patricia is probably literally the smartest guy in most rooms, but he’s taking his Bill Belichick routine to a level he can’t back up.
Poised with a pencil over his ear more often than not, Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia exudes an aura of intelligence. A degree in aeronautical engineering surely gives someone that ability, and as such Patricia has one. But he inherited a 9-7 team, and with a three-game losing streak going the Lions are 3-6 and bringing up the rear in the NFC North.
And when snow hit the eastern part of the country, the Lions practiced outside on Thursday with Patricia pulling the tough guy routine with a pair of shorts on too.
Are the Lions playing outdoors on Sunday? Nope, they’ll play the Carolina Panthers in the first of three straight home games before an indoor road game against the Arizona Cardinals.
So the Lions’ next outdoor game is a month away, Dec. 16 at Buffalo in Week 15. And they’ll finish the season on the road against the Green Bay Packers. So some effort to get players accustomed to those conditions could be explained, but probably not a month out.
On Friday, Patricia was asked about practicing outside. In what has quickly become his typical fashion, along the lines of critiquing a reporter’s posture a couple weeks ago, he went on the defensive with a ready-made four-minute, 900-word statement to open his press conference.
Here are the a few of the most pertinent points, from ESPN:
"Mud, snow, loose grass, whatever the case may be, focuses most of the skill players to keep their feet underneath them and play technically sound.The downside of practicing indoors on the turf is the wear and effect that it has on the bigger-bodied players on our team. Standing on turf or running on turf often times, for extended periods of time, affects joints.We’re going to be practicing inside today so everybody’s clear, all right? Make sure everybody’s good for all the head coaches in the room on that. Everybody good there?"
Patricia’s point about turf being hard on players’ bodies is solid, and there’s something to be said for shaky footing helping players focus on cleaning up technique. But the comment about “all the head coaches in the room” was a step too far.
The core of Patricia’s routine comes from the master of telling the media nothing and occasionally getting defiant, Bill Belichick. Belichick will go into greater detail on a topic while carrying the air that he’s smarter than everyone else. Patricia channeled that with his lengthy, prepared explanation for practicing outside.
Belichick also has five Super Bowl rings to prove he is indeed that smart, at least in a football sense. Meanwhile Patricia has a 3-6 record a little over halfway through his first season as an NFL head coach, with a defense he was hired to help fix allowing almost 29 points per game over the current three-game losing streak.
Belichick’s coaching tree is filled with head coaching failures, as some tried to replicate his style, some didn’t and all were exposed upon being out from under his wing. Patricia is already putting himself in the full-on replica category, before he has anything close to the resume to back it up.