Bill Belichick’s gnarled, stunted coaching tree—a coaching krummholz, really—ultimately reflects well on Belichick. He’s not, apparently, succeeding solely by surrounding himself with hypertalented assistants, as we’re seeing every few years when one of those assistants gets a head coaching gig and promptly flames out. And it’s hard not to read the inverse into it, though it’s surely an overstatement: It ends up seeming like those former assistants only looked like geniuses when surrounded by Belichick’s system and personnel. Which brings us to Matt Patricia, who took over a Lions team that had gone 9-7 in two straight seasons and currently has them at 5-10 with a game left.
If the Lions are quietly mediocre, Patricia’s rookie season has been enjoyable for his displays of what he clearly believes are Belichickian motivational tactics, like practicing in the snow ahead of four straight indoor games—and, of course, getting all huffy when asked about it. But the most purely Patricia moment came on Halloween, when the coach demanded that a reporter stop slouching when asking him a question at a press conference. Funny that Patricia apparently seems so concerned with press conference decorum:
Hell yeah. It turns out that Patricia was 65 minutes late to his conference call with reporters yesterday—35 minutes past the rescheduled time announced after it was clear that he was never going to make the initial appointment.
He is always late; Patricia Standard Time, the Detroit News writer dubbed it. And let’s be clear about how unusual this is. One Packers writer, who sits through conference calls and press conferences with a different opposing coach every week, notes that this “never, ever, ever happens with any other coach.”
Here you might be saying, who cares about reporters and their time? It only matters how Patricia treats his players. Oh, buddy, do I have the story for you. The Detroit Free Press reports that Patricia is “consistently” late to team meetings as well.
When he did finally show up for the conference on Wednesday, Patricia was asked about the importance of punctuality. (Seriously nice work by whichever reporter asked that one.)
“I think it just depends on the situation really,” Patricia said. “It depends. There’s a pretty busy schedule from those situations I think for everybody. I think fluidity is probably the best answer for you.”
Fluidity in all things, except perhaps his job situation, where he’s “pretty confident” he’ll be back coaching the Lions next year.