Lions players celebrated time away from Matt Patricia with mimosas after 2018 season

John Healy
November 15, 2020 - 1:50 pm

It is never a good sign when players are celebrating with champagne at the end of a 6-10 season, but that is exactly what happened with the Detroit Lions in 2018 following Matt Patricia’s first year as the franchise’s head coach.

In a story detailed by Kalyn Kahler of Bleacher Report, about 10-15 Lions players celebrated clean-out day in the locker room with mimosas because they were happy to finally get away from the first-year head coach.

“Didn’t nobody care at that point,” a former offensive player said. “Everybody was glad to be out of the building.”

Patricia, who remains the Lions head coach as of Sunday, had tried to instill the “Patriot Way” from his time as defensive coordinator in New England into Detroit, but players were turned off by his entire approach, especially after the team had parted ways with the more “player-friendly” Jim Caldwell.

“It was like everything in Detroit, what we were doing, how things work, everything was just not good, was wrong was bad,” former safety Glover Quin, now retired, said. “We felt like we had started changing the culture and changing the way Detroit was viewed. And then for you to come in and just be like ‘I am going to tear everything down,’ I don’t know if we need it to be all torn down, we just need you to get us over the hump.”

Quin said that players did not like the way Patricia talked to them, especially in group settings, with Patricia cursing at them. Other players likened it to a college coach yelling at college kids.

“When you are cursing me like I am a little boy – hold on bro, you don’t have to talk to me like that to get your point across,” Quin said. “We are partners, we are working together. … When you are dealing with grown men, we are going to talk to each other like men. Don’t talk to me like you own me.”

Quin was released after the 2018 season due to what he says was partly because he was a veteran voice Patricia could not control. Quin said fellow safety Qaundre Diggs was traded for similar reasons.

One player recalled how Diggs and others reacted positively to a clip Patricia showed of Cam Newton dancing on the field in an attempt to fire the team up. Diggs reportedly shouted back, “No, we like that, Coach! Keep that running!”

Other issues raised in the Bleacher Report story include Patricia calling out players in team meetings to make a point, banning jersey swaps with opponents, banning jewelry on the field and prohibiting music in the locker room on game day.

“Just little dumb stuff that really shouldn’t matter,” one player said. “But it does matter when you are a new coach and you are trying to implement a system that guys aren’t familiar with.”

The story noted that Patricia has made some adjustments since his first season as head coach. He does allow music on game days, but still has a ban on jersey swaps and jewelry.

Former Lions running back Zack Zenner, who said people were “talking about how there was no way they were going to re-sign back in Detroit” after the 2018 season, said he noticed a difference in Patricia before he was cut after the 2019 preseason.

“The thing I loved about him, he was always making adjustments,” Zenner said. “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.”

Patricia’s name has come up as a coach on the hot seat this year. He entered Sunday with the Lions 3-5 and 12-27-1 since he took over as head coach.

How the Lions finish this year will likely determine Patricia’s future with the team.

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