Matt Patricia has been head coach of the Detroit Lions for roughly 19 minutes. It’s been a rocky time—mere moments after he accepted the job, the Detroit News reported on a sexual assault indictment in Patricia’s past, and the Lions organization needed much of the time since—and, frankly, the aid of several eclipsing news cycles—to climb out from under the PR nightmare this revelation triggered.
But now Patricia may be running up against an even tougher challenge, according to Carlos Monnarez of the Detroit Free Press. The accusations are breathtaking. Are you sitting down?
Matt Patricia is in danger of losing his players.
This was my main observation from three days of minicamp this week. The Detroit Lions’ rookie coach wants things done his way. And his way means running as punishment. Lots and lots of running.
Good lord! As evidence in support of this observation—which is troubling! Who likes running!—Monnarez offers this heavy-hitting quote, which establishes beyond all doubt that the players on the field are, in fact, adult humans:
“These are true professionals,” rookie running back Kerryon Johnson said Tuesday while marveling at the talent level difference between college and NFL players. “These are grown men, 30, 35, 25.”
Never mind that this quote wasn’t given as part of a complaint, or in reference to Patricia’s practice habits, or even with the coach in mind in any way. Can’t move on to the rest of the column before we’ve provided firsthand eyewitness testimony to the general age range of the participants, in case you, a football fan reading a football column about the NFL, were confused. Now that we’ve established that a rookie knows the age range of his teammates:
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.
Yes, the players said it was no big deal, but I, a plugged-in NFL observer, can assure you that players do not like this form of punishment. As opposed to all the other forms of punishment, which I am told, yes, I am being told now that other forms of punishment are widely considered cool and fun.
Imagine you’re a roster-bubble player and you’re having a good practice and ready for your next rep when Patricia decides to get mad and makes everyone run, thereby cancelling one of your reps. How exactly does that help anyone? The usual way players are corrected is they get chewed out by their position coaches.
Imagine a form of punishment that takes you from doing a thing you would prefer to be doing and instead forces you to do something you would prefer not to be doing! Outrageous. Truly it is much better for these grown men to be accosted by older men with whistles on lanyards. For that matter, clearly the “usual way” in Detroit is what everyone should stick to from now on.
Even Jim Schwartz (who thought he was the smartest man in the room) and Jim Caldwell (who knew he was the smartest man in the room) didn’t punish players with running very often during minicamp or training camp.
Even [a coach with a 29-51 career record] and [the man whose firing cleared the way for Patricia’s hiring] didn’t do things exactly like the man who was just hired to replace their sorry asses! I mean that should truly tell you something, right there. DO I GOTTA SPELL IT OUT FOR YOU OR WHAT.
Now for a gigantic leap:
The running, on its own, won’t lose players for Patricia. But you have to assume if he’s using these tactics in front of reporters, he could be using others privately that are equally distasteful to players.
You hate to think of what equally distasteful methods a coach could be using in private. Sending them to their rooms? Taking away their video game privileges? Down Ups? Waterboarding??
Having shat this half-assed take into existence, Monnarez must now launder it through some sleazy actually modern NFL players are overpaid glory boy scum nonsense, so that you will know he wouldn’t dare take the players’ side against management:
And don’t think I’m in favor of coddling modern-day pro athletes with inflated paychecks that match their egos. Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary loved the old-school penance. I’m guessing Singletary probably also thought Bear Bryant was too soft on the Junction Boys.
But this is a different era, with restricted practice time teams need to use judiciously.
You see, this isn’t about Monnarez respecting the players and their bodies and their time. It’s actually about Monnarez, Sophisticated Football Knower, having a better grip on how NFL teams should use their practice time than a literal NFL head coach, who spent 14 years coaching under Bill actual Belichick. That wooosh you felt was the neck-snapping reverse of course—just moment ago this was about Patricia “losing his players,” but now that we’ve established that the players are, in fact, shitty punks, it’s about using time judiciously. Uh huh.
And now, for a lesson in having zero self-awareness, the very next section of Monnarez’s column, helpfully described as “more observations from minicamp,” opens with this shocker:
Well well well. You miss the guy who gave you better answers. Who could’ve guessed it.