BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — As the New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia has little reason to interact with the Patriots’ offense. Lord knows he already has enough on his plate without worrying about the other side of the ball.
That’s not how Patricia operates, though, and his players adore him for it.
Before each Patriots game, Patricia walks through the team’s warmup lines and delivers a brief but impassioned pump-up speech to every player on the roster. Offense or defense, rookie or veteran, star or scrub — it doesn’t matter. Patricia makes time for them all, and his effort doesn’t go unnoticed.
“He just gets us fired up,” tight end Jacob Hollister told NESN.com during Wednesday’s Super Bowl LII media session at the Mall of America. “He has so much fire and love for the game. You can just feel it in the way that he talks and the way that he approaches the game. He’ll just come up, say a little something and get us going. It’s pretty sweet.”
“He’s one of the most lively coaches on the staff,” wide receiver Phillip Dorsett added. “I look forward to his little moment right there before the game.”
One would be hard-pressed to find any member of the Patriots organization more beloved by players than Patricia, who is about to wrap up his 14th — and likely final — season on Bill Belichick’s coaching staff.
“He knows everybody, man,” running back Dion Lewis said. “I love Matty P. He’s a great coach. Great person, too. He’s one of my favorite coaches on the staff.”
In Patricia’s mind, his pregame routine is a way of thanking players for their hard work and dedication. They put in the hours, so they deserve the individual attention.
“It’s an emotional game,” the 43-year-old coach said. “It’s a great game. I think it’s a big opportunity as a coach for me to — I’ve got to go wish them good luck. I’ve got to just tell them, ‘Hey, go out and do everything you can’ and just show the support.
“A lot of times, we deal with our side of the ball a lot, and we don’t really get to spend some time with the offense. It’s a great team game, and you want to go over and just let them know you’re thinking about them all the way. Because in the end, game day is their day. I can’t go out and play. I can just kind of sit there and watch.”
Patricia had a front-row seat this season as his defense morphed from turnstile into one of the NFL’s stingiest units. Despite allowing a whopping 128 points over the first four games, the Patriots finished the regular season ranked fifth in scoring defense. They’ve allowed more than 20 points just twice in their last 14 games, including playoff wins over the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
That success turned Patricia, who interviewed for head-coaching jobs last offseason, into one of the league’s most highly sought-after coaching candidates. After the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles square off in Super Bowl LII to close out the 2017 season, the bearded, pencil-toting rocket scientist is expected to become the next head coach of the Detroit Lions.
It remains to be seen whether Patricia will thrive in that role, succeeding where many Belichick disciples before him have failed. But regardless of what his future holds, he will be sorely missed in New England.
“One day, he just came up to me and said, ‘You know I love you, right?’ ” cornerback Malcolm Butler said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I believe it.’ Because I love him, too.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP