Allen Park — On most days, Matt Patricia opens his daily press conferences the same way.
The Detroit Lions coach steps to the podium, asks how everyone is doing and is met with a cordial, but tepid chorus of responses invoking a repetitive joke from the coach about reporters’ lack of enthusiasm.
It’s a monotonous start to a monotonous ritual. Press conferences are a chore for the coach, who would rather be doing just about anything else in the world, and they’re a chore for the media, who have to parse through the clichés and non-answers, hoping to find a useful quote to use with the day’s content.
Not surprisingly, Wednesday started like any other day, with Patricia making a joke about enthusiasm.
“You guys are fired up,” he said. “I can tell already.”
But that’s where the train of repetition left the station. Because someone was fired up and difference in Patricia’s energy level was palpable.
Patricia loves coaching football, he’s made that abundantly clear during his short time in Detroit, and with the first regular season game finally on the horizon, Patricia is like a kid on Christmas Eve.
Patricia’s energy was particularly noticeable with the way he was slinging around football terminology when discussing different elements of the preparing for Monday night’s matchup with the Jets.
Patricia discussed the stretch-zone run game being incorporated by new Jets offensive line coach Rick Dennison, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold’s success rolling out to both his left and right, and the difficultly of anticipating the pass-rush pressures Jets coach Todd Bowles is capable of drawing up.
Patricia wasn’t specifically asked about a single Jets player on Wednesday, but managed to work eight into his answers, from the team’s budding stars, such as Leonard Williams and Jamal Adams, to lesser known contributors like cornerback Buster Skrine.
“And Buster Skrine too, he’s a phenomenal player inside and in the slot position,” Patricia said. “Very quick, very aggressive player, does a great job of tackling.”
When a reporter noted Patricia’s elevated energy, the coach quipped back.
"I’m pretty fired up every day. Sometimes I come in here and you guys suck the life out of me,” he said. … I’m not going to let you guys do that to me today because we’re going out there and we’re getting ready to go win. I mean the best that we can.”
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The matchup with the Jets has to be a familiar feel for Patricia, who coached against the team twice a year while in New England. He made it clear that familiarity offered no advantage this week.
“I don’t know if it’s really an advantage for me,” he said. “It’s obviously very familiar, I guess that would be the best way to put it. The teams change. Teams change every year, the coaching staffs change, and the players. So, each year is kind of a new year for you to really rediscover what they are. I would say, obviously with Sam Darnold as the quarterback being in there, it’s a different look, it’s a different system, from that standpoint.”
Patricia also noted how the Jets’ defense, despite returning so many players, presents different challenges this season following the offseason signing of Trumaine Johnson. The 6-foot-2, 213-pound cornerback has 42 pass breakups and 10 interceptions over the past three seasons.
Patricia will spend the week scheming and getting his team prepared for all of it, with enthusiasm unlikely to be matched by anyone else in the building.
“I’m sure, like I said a long time ago, my 12-year-old self is probably freaking out somewhere,” Patricia said. “But I have to just try to do a good job here of focusing on what I have to do today.”