Allen Park — It’s early, but the lines of communication between Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia and quarterback Matthew Stafford are wide open and the flow of information is already at work to make both better at their jobs.
In many ways, the only quarterback Patricia has known in the NFL has been Patriots' Tom Brady. Sure, there have been a number of backups in New England, including Matt Cassel, the current Lion who essentially started the entire 2008 season when Brady went down with a knee injury in Week 1. But Brady is the barometer for Patricia’s NFL experience.
The coach had no interest in comparing Brady and Stafford, but acknowledged his appreciation for having a quarterback with a high football IQ, which paves the way for high-level concept conversations instead of having to waste valuable time explaining things.
“Matthew’s unbelievable,” Patricia said. “He loves this game, like he loves football, loves to practice, loves to prepare. He wants to know as much information as possible, not only scheme-wise, he wants to know it from players, as far as the guys around him, as far as the guys on the other side of the ball.”
With a background on defense, Patricia offers valuable insight into the strategy on that side of the ball. But he also gains corresponding knowledge from Stafford, often standing behind the quarterback at practice, taking in the reps from his perspective, then probing Stafford’s mind for his thought process on the plays.
“He’s asking me nonstop, I’m talking to him nonstop,” Stafford said. “He’s out there a bunch as a head coach, kind of standing behind me looking at the defense and seeing it kind of how I see it. So, there’s constant back and forth of, ‘Hey, what did you see? Did this guy give it away?’”
At the Super Bowl, Patricia shared a bit about his relationship with Brady and how as the defensive coordinator he liked to verbally challenge the quarterback in practice to get the competitive juices going.
Stafford seemed to hint Patricia might be employing similar tactics in Detroit.
“We’re both competitive people,” Stafford said. “He’s competitive out on the field, I’m competitive.”
Entering his 10th season, Stafford is coming off one of his best campaigns. In 2017, he completed 65.7 percent of his throws for 4,446 yards, 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.