The Detroit Lions continue to be mocked on social media as the ‘Detroit Patriots’ minus the winning. Plenty of former players have also decided to chime in on Detroit’s alarming locker room situation.
Well, that isn’t exactly what you’d like to hear as a Lions fan. Perhaps general manager Bob Quinn continues to sign ex-Patriots to fit head coach Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme, but maybe also a way to iron out any kinks in the locker room. Recently, the Detroit Lions traded star corner Darius Slay; he left town guns-blazing. Slay didn’t mix words and told us what he thought of his now-former head coach.
• The relationship was severed during a team meeting in training camp, when Slay posted a picture of a receiver on social media and Patricia told Slay “to stop sucking this man’s private.”
• Earlier in the offseason, Patricia called Slay into his office and reprimanded him for working out with fellow cornerbacks Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib and Xavier Rhodes. Patricia told Slay he wasn’t elite and those players were, and that Sherman was using him to get information, since the 49ers were going to play the Lions that season. Slay was first-team All-Pro in 2017, and led the NFL in both interceptions (eight) and passes defensed (26). But coach knows best, right?
For the record, don’t overlook the fact that Slay was coming off of a better season than each of the names mentioned above.
Dan Orlovsky wasn’t a polarizing player on the field, but his friendship and bond with Matthew Stafford provided stability for the Detroit Lions at the position. Orlovsky is widely regarded as a great film room quarterback; he’s carved himself out an excellent career after football as an analyst for ESPN.
Orlovsky, who played with Slay for two seasons, described him as ‘beloved’ within Detroit’s locker room. It was then when he teed off on Patricia saying this;
“When you’re a coach, you’re supposed to figure out a way to build up your players. Every coach that I’ve ever been around that was worth something, would always go ‘you will become who you spend your time with.’ So yes, go work out with Aqib Talib and Richard Sherman. Figure out what has allowed them to play at such a high level and see if you can even become better. You don’t talk like that to your players! Let alone one of the best players on your team. The Lions organization has an issue with their head coach, and that pains me to say cause I root for them heavily.”
One can assume these actions were in an attempt to motivate a star player. The problem is, Matt Patricia doesn’t have the resume of Bill Belichick. Players don’t want to be disrespected by anyone, but winning cures all, something that’s eluded the Lions. Many of these players rostered had played for Jim Caldwell, who guided the team to back to back 9-7 seasons before being fired. Caldwell and Patricia have completely opposite personalities.
It appears Matt Patricia entered the Detroit Lions locker room trying to prove he’s the boss, a ‘this is going to be my way or the highway’ mentality. Perhaps an ‘I’m the smartest guy in the room’ ego. We all know someone like that, and how do you feel when they tell you how to spend your free time away from work? That’s what happened here.
Much of what Sharpe mentioned makes a lot of sense. A head coach has 53 players, with plenty of different upbringings, backgrounds, races. A coach needs to treat everyone fair but differently.
Why wouldn’t Patricia try and build his star up rather than tear him down? Does Patricia have an ego trip? Slay did mention 2019 was a bit better than 2018, so perhaps Patricia understands his mistake and is trying to change. Maybe that is why Quinn continues to bring in New England’s leftovers; they are used to the ‘Patriot way’ and Patricia’s coaching style.
Nevertheless, a frayed locker room is something that doesn’t get repaired overnight. It could also spew over to on-field performances. Imagine the difference between showing up to work happy or starting the day loathing your job. It will undoubtedly hinder your ability to perform at your best.
Slay has many friends still in that room, but these stories coming out certainly provide us with more insight as to why the Lions had decided to move on from Quandre Diggs, and Damon Harrison in addition to Slay.