From 2015-2018, Zach Zenner was a running back for the Detroit Lions. During his first three seasons in the league, his head coach was Jim Caldwell, but during his final season with the Lions, Zenner played for current Lions head coach, Matt Patricia.
During that season, Zenner played in eight games, rushing the ball 55 times for 265 yards and three touchdowns.
In a recent interview with Bleacher Report, Zenner talked about why playing for Patricia was not easy. One thing Zenner noted was that Patricia came in and wanted to change everything as if the Lions, who had won nine games in 2017, were doing everything wrong.
“We really weren’t that bad!” says Zenner, who played for Caldwell and Patricia. “We had a good thing going. We had … made the playoffs [in 2016]. It wasn’t like he was starting from scratch.”
“We have a long way to go; gosh, I don’t know how many times I heard that,” Zenner says. “It would stem from the idea that it is not the Patriot Way, so it is the wrong way.”
Zenner added that it was frustrating to be worked so hard every day in practice by Patricia only to lose a ton of football games (they were 6-10 in 2018).
“It’s all the hard work and not the rings,” Zenner says. “You go to [New England] to win a ring, and you work hard and you earn it or you go deep in the playoffs. And you go to Detroit, you do that same thing, but you just lose. People don’t want to lose, and people especially don’t want to work way harder than everyone else to have a worse record than people who work half as hard.”
Prior to being released by the Lions just prior to the start of the 2019 season, Zenner noted that Patricia was more comfortable as a head coach, that he was trying to be better.
“The thing I loved about him, he was always making adjustments,” Zenner says. “His second year was a lot different. He was a lot more relaxed and more comfortable in his surroundings. It didn’t seem as unyielding as the previous year.”