The first job for Lions head coach, Matt Patricia, this pre-season will be to pick his team up following a dreadful end to the 2018 campaign, which saw them lose twice as many games as they won in their last nine fixtures. It was a consequence of allowing wide receiver Golden Tate – one of their stronger players – to move on to the Philadelphia Eagles. Things didn’t exactly go to plan for Tate either but a money-spinning four-year deal with the New York Giants will leave him sleeping easy, whilst his former team work on a solution to their offensive problems – step forward free agent Danny Amendola.
Amendola has penned a one year deal after leaving the Miami Dolphins and whilst he probably won’t hit the heights Tate did – in a statistical sense at least – he’ll bring other qualities to the squad. You can guarantee maximum effort from Amendola and if his early relationship with quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to blossom then there is no reason why he can’t post his best numbers for a decade and as a result, the Lions will see a sharp upturn from last year.
Amendola worked with Patricia during his time with the New England Patriots and whilst they spent their time working at opposite ends of the field the new signing left a lasting impression with Patricia. The coach has stated Amendola’s personality and work ethic were as important to him as his ability when the deal was lined up and Amendola has mirrored that sentiment when stressing the importance of learning together and turning up each day with a positive attitude.
Those were qualities he saw in his coach during their days in New York – and it would seem his experience and mentality is already rubbing off on his new teammates with 25-year-old fellow wide receiver Kenny Golladay setting himself a personal challenge not to be out-run by a man eight years his senior – that’s all healthy competition of course!
Amendola came through the ranks at Texas Tech dreaming of a career in the NFL and was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys where he spent the 2008 season in the practice squad before being released and joining the Philadelphia Eagles. Here, once again, he remained out of the first team picture, but the corner was turned for Amendola when he joined the St Louis Rams where he impressed over a four-year period earning himself a move to the New England Patriots.
With the Patriots he won two Super Bowls, scoring a touchdown in both but prior to last season, he joined the Miami Dolphins. Amendola signed a two-year deal to keep himself in Miami but despite posting team-leading stats during his debut campaign, he was released before NFL preseason 2019, making him a free agent.
Although fans shouldn’t read too much into that given his coach at Miami, Adam Gase, is now at the New York Jets and was rumoured to be interested in a reunion with Amendola. This suggests that his performances on the field and in training were nothing to do with his release.
The upcoming campaign is Patricia’s second as head coach and he’ll be aiming for a much more successful season than last time out. For sure, Amendola will help to bring a winning culture to Ford Field. As much as both parties’ stress this is a move that isn’t about looking back but moving forward, if the Lions get into the playoffs their fans might be lucky enough to see just why Amendola has earned the nickname ‘Play-off Danny’ throughout his career. Let’s see how the Texas-born wide receiver will perform!