Matt Patricia made his mark in New England coaching defensive football before coming to Detroit to be the Lions head coach.
Matthew Stafford is a 10-year veteran quarterback, who’s seen just about everything a defense can throw at him at this point in his career.
What can a defensive-minded head coach and a veteran quarterback learn from each other?
It turns out a lot.
Patricia described the game within the game that takes place between the offense and the defense as a chess match. He says he’s enjoyed his interactions so far with Stafford, and uses them as an opportunity to get a different perspective on the defense. He hopes Stafford uses them the same way, and values them just as much.
“I’m looking at him saying, ‘I’m seeing this’ or ‘you’re doing this’, you know, ‘what are you seeing from this position and how do you view that,’” Patricia said.
“And I think that’s all part of the growth and education of it and it’s great. It’s a lot of fun when you can do that on the field.”
Stafford is coming off one of his finest seasons as a professional, completing 65.7 percent of his passes for 4,446 yards, 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He set a career and franchise single-season mark with a passer rating of 99.3.
The Lions return all four of their top receivers, four starters along the offensive line, and have made the most concerted effort since Stafford got to Detroit in 2009 to give him help in the form of a consistent rushing attack.
“We’re both competitive people,” Stafford said. “He’s competitive out on the field. I’m competitive. He’s asking me nonstop, I’m talking to him nonstop. 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?’ Whatever. But we’re always talking.”
It’s one of those deals that should be beneficial for both the offense and defense. It’s not like Stafford hasn’t talked with defensive coaches before. He and former Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin talked shop too. Patricia spent a lot of time during Thursday’s open OTA with the offense, and seems to like the perspective that provides him.
“It’s always unique,” Stafford said of getting a defensive perspective on things. “Every defensive coach kind of has their own philosophy. I’m sure Coach Patricia’s will be different than the guys who have been here before.
“It’s always fun to kind of pick the brain of the other side and see what they’re seeing and what they’re trying to take away and what they’re trying to force you to do.”