Allen Park — The demands of coaching professional football takes Lions coach Matt Patricia away from his family more than he'd care to admit. But if there's been a silver lining from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's that its given him time to spend with his wife and three children he's rarely had during his career.
Not only has the state of Michigan issued a shelter in place order for non-essential employees, the NFL has also closed down team facilities across the league. That means Patricia has been working from home the past two weeks as the team wades through the second wave of free agency, as well as preparation from this month's draft.
"Normally we are just quarantined at the office," Patricia said, speaking figuratively during a Friday interview with WJR 760. "That's pretty much what we do. This is by far the most I've ever been home, probably in my entire working career in football. There are certainly parts of it we're trying to figure out, but honestly, I love my kids, I love my wife. I's great to be around them and just to be in a situation where everybody, first and foremost, is safe and healthy. That's the important thing."
The Lions have been busy during free agency, adding more than a dozen players to the roster. Plus, there's still cap room to continue shopping for bargains on the market, while keeping an eye on the draft, where the Lions hold the No. 3 pick.
The entire process has been a series of adjustments for the staff.
"It's obviously a unique situation for all of us, not to be hands-on, working directly with everybody," he said. "We (normally) have a lot of meetings, group meetings, being able to watch film and being able to discuss topics in that board-room setting. It's been a little bit of a different challenge for us, but there are different apps and software out there that we're using right now to kind of be able to do those things, which is great, so we can stay on top of the work that needs to be done."
Being able to adapt is to succeeding in football, whether it's making an in-game adjustment on the sideline or replacing a starter who has suffered a season-ending injury. The Lions' ability to adjust figures to be tested beyond the draft with the NFL suspending all offseason programs until this pandemic fizzles out.
Patricia was asked how the potential lack of an offseason could impact the team's preparedness for the regular season.
"I think we always adapt to any situation," he said. "We've proven that through the history of the NFL, through all the different schedules and schedule changes and different timelines we've had through the course of the years. Everyone just always adapts and you move forward. Certainly, we're always trying to do everything we can to work within the parameters we're given. "
The lack of an offseason isn't unprecedented. In 2011, the league had a lockout that lasted four months, from March until the end of July. Patricia was an assistant coach in New England that year and the team went 13-3 and reached the Super Bowl before losing to the New York Giants, 24-20.