Changing a culture takes time and that is exactly what Detroit Lions‘ second-year head coach Matt Patricia is finding out. During his first season with the team, there were reports that some players were unhappy about how hard Patricia was working them in practice. That, coupled with a 6-10, last-place finish in the NFC North, goes to show that changing an organization does not happen overnight.
The Lions have been losing for a long time (even when they did make the playoffs, they lost immediately) and that is not something Patricia is used to.
Coming from the New England Patriots, Patricia is focused on winning football games that matter and he knows it takes dedication from the owner of the team all the way down to the practice squad players.
In order to build a winning culture in Detroit, Patricia, along with Lions’ GM Bob Quinn, are focused on bringing in the right players and coaches who are willing to give 100% all of the time.
On Tuesday, Patricia was at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix and he spoke about whether or not he felt his players were buying into his philosophy.
“I think the buy-in (conversation) is always a tricky conversation,” Patricia said. “Everyone buys in when you win. It’s easy. But do you really know if they’re really buying in, or are they just kind of riding the train of winning?”
“Who are the guys who want to work hard?” Patricia said. “Who wants to do it the right way? Who are the guys who are trying to help us build longstanding success? Who are the guys who want to study the game and work hard at it? There’s just a different level of work ethic that some of the guys have that are going to come in, and that we’re developing. … It may be an hour extra here, or a conversation here between players, or being a little bit smarter in these situations. So it’s more about that than the buy-in factor. It’s about just the right type of guys that you put together as a team.
“It doesn’t mean anybody’s not a good player, or a bad person. It’s just about how you put your team together to build the best team. Because as we all know, it’s the best team that wins. It’s not necessarily the most talented team. So we’re trying to find the best team.”
“We tried to do the same thing with the guys we brought in last year, with (Devon) Kennard and those guys, and build around the guys who are already on the team who have that same work ethic,” Patricia said. “I mean, as far as last year, everyone was kind of just getting in the groove. This year has been great. There are a lot of guys I have familiarity with. One guy (Flowers) really coming from the Patriots. Justin really matured in Seattle, did a great job there. Jesse did a great job in Pittsburgh, great culture, great work ethic, things like that. Danny’s unbelievable, I’ve known him forever, but he was like that with the Rams. So, you know, just guys we identified in the league. (Oday) Aboushi is another real tough guy. He’s tough, he’s gritty, he grinds it out. And the corners — (Rashaan) Melvin coming from Indy to Oakland, was with me a little bit. So there is obviously some carryover with those guys, just knowing me a little bit.
“Just trying to add good, solid football players to our team. Guys we think can help us.”
It is very clear that Patricia is interested in bringing in players who are willing to go the extra mile to help the team. If a player is not willing to do that, he probably will not last long.