Allen Park — The confluence of a new season and a new coach has generated expected optimism and excitement around the Detroit Lions, not just with the fans, but with the players, who began the offseason program with voluntary workouts last week.
Matt Patricia — hired in February as Jim Caldwell’s replacement at the helm — has wasted little time making a good first impression with the team.
“We’re bringing in a guy from a team that has a lot of wins under his belt,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “Obviously, he’s a first-time head coach, but he’s thought about this, I’m sure, for a long time and thought about how he wants things to go. We’re excited to have him. He’s bringing great energy, great passion for the game. It’s on us to match that and exceed it, and as leaders on this team, filter that message down and make sure everybody is pulling in the same direction.”
Middle linebacker Jarrad Davis, entering his second season, echoed Stafford’s sentiments. Davis emphasized how easy Patricia was making the transition to a new staff.
“It’s pure excitement, to be honest,” Davis said. “Just the energy that he gives off every day in the building, walking around, he’s a straight-forward kind of guy, but he’s loose. It helps you as a player be who you are and stick to your roots and just come out and just give your best every day.
“He doesn’t have a wall or anything that you have to break through,” Davis said. “A lot of coaches really don’t, but sometimes when you get into that new environment and you’re around a new coach, it’s always that what-if stage. It’s nothing like that with Coach Patricia at all. It’s smooth sailing and extremely comfortable to be around him.”
At this point, the Lions are still in the conditioning phase of the offseason program and won’t delve into schematic alterations until next month. On offense, it’s more likely to be tweaks than an overhaul given coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and many of the assistants from that side of the ball are returning under Patricia. But on defense, things are expected to look significantly different.
Davis, who slogged through his rookie season adjusting to a new scheme, feels his understanding of weekly preparation has him equipped for the upcoming changes.
“I was able to see what study habits I had — were they good, were they bad?” Davis said. “Now, I’m able to kind of skip past that rocky phase and go right into this type of studying helps me, this type of studying doesn’t help me; this amount time that I put in on the film helps me, this amount of time doesn’t help me.”