Lions coach Matt Patricia’s brief tenure in Detroit has already been strange, involving blowout losses to bad teams, huge wins over good teams, the news of a dismissed sexual assault charge from 1996, a somewhat puzzling trade that came a couple hours before the trade deadline on Tuesday, and now, an unnecessarily combative press conference in the aftermath of that trade.
On Tuesday, the Lions traded star slot receiver Golden Tate to the Eagles. On Wednesday, when a reporter tried to ask Patricia why that trade benefited the Lions, Patricia responded by scolding the reporter for his posture, telling him to “respect” the process and to ask him a question “professionally,” and then finally answering the question after the reporter asked it again.
You can watch a video of the interaction over at the Detroit Free Press, but here’s their transcript of the exchange:
Reporter: “Why do you think this move makes your franchise better?”
Patricia: “Ah, well, you know. Do me a favor just kinda sit up, just like, have a little respect for the process. Every day you come and ask me questions and you’re just kinda like you know, ‘gimme this.’ “
Reporter: “I’m sitting …”
Patricia: “I’m asking just to be a little respectful in this whole process.”
Reporter: “Okay, that’s fine.”
Patricia: “So ask me a question professionally and I’ll answer it for you.”
Reporter: “Okay. Why do you feel like this move makes your franchise better?”
Patricia went on to answer the question — a question that was fair, by the way. It’s not that swapping Tate for a third-round pick was a bad move for the Lions, it just kinda came out nowhere considering 1) the Lions traded for a player who can help them right now in Damon Harrison a week ago, 2) the Lions are just one game behind the first-place Bears in the NFC North, and 3) the Lions then proceeded to trade away arguably their best playmaker.
Again, that doesn’t make the Lions’ decision to trade away Tate a bad one. After all, he was likely leaving after the season as a free agent and even though the Lions are only a game back of first place in their division, there are three teams between them and the top of the division. According to SportsLine’s playoff projections, the Lions’ chances to win the division sit at 13 percent. The Lions probably aren’t a playoff team this season and that third-round pick should help them build for a better future.
And that’s what makes it all the more puzzling that Patricia got so testy. Of course, reporters were going to ask him questions about the trade. Of course, they wanted to know why he thought trading away one of the game’s best slot receivers helped his team. Of course, he was going to have to defend the trade. And the thing is, it’s really not that difficult to explain. Heck, I just did it above in less than a hundred words. Just add in a couple of sentences about “believing in the guys we have on the roster” and how “everybody needs to contribute and keep grinding and moving forward” and Patricia would’ve been done without incident.
Instead, he oddly chose to criticize a reporter — not for a question, but for his posture while asking a question. It’s one thing for Bill Belichick, arguably the game’s greatest coach, to be grumpy and terse with reporters. It’s an entirely different thing for Patricia, who is 3-4 as a head coach, to behave like a grumpier version of Belichick. He had to know that if he chided a reporter for his posture, it would be become a story. And that’s exactly what happened. Here we are talking about Patricia’s strange behavior at a press conference instead of football. That’s Patricia’s fault for turning himself into the story.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, the Bears’ first-year head coach is at the podium.
Only one win separates Matt Patricia and Matt Nagy, but one of them is pulling ahead in the perception battle.
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