LIONS HEAD COACH MATT PATRICIA CONFERENCE CALL QUOTE SHEET (VIA ZOOM)
May 5, 2020
Opening statement: “Hopefully everybody is well, healthy and staying safe and everything. Certainly unnormal, unusual circumstances, but from that aspect of it, just continue to do all that – there’s nothing more important than everybody’s health, that’s for sure, I think. Again, our continued support for the many people in the medical profession that are helping us along with everyone in the support fields and just everyone who’s allowing our daily lives to go along as normal – grocery stores, delivery people – just so appreciative of what everybody’s doing right now to help us fight through this. (We’ll) kind of get right into it, I’m sure you have a bunch of questions and stuff, so maybe from that aspect of it we’ll dive right in.”
On the challenges Defensive Coordinator Cory Undlin faces during the virtual offseason format, how Undlin handling it and if he is able to conduct full team meetings virtually: “Great question. I would say with Cory and Brayden (Coombs, special teams coordinator) – you know, we have two new coordinators this year – it’s been an interesting challenge for them. The great thing is – Cory (has a) background very similar to mine from that standpoint and obviously expanded knowledge from the different places that he’s coached. But he’s been in this league for a long time; he’s an experienced coach, and he really is a guy that rolls with the punches very well (with) kind of the different things we’re dealing with here. They’re doing a great job and just reaching out. There’s a lot of individual reaching out going on – just contacting guys individually, catching up and explaining. Really cool – the Zoom calls, the different calls that we’ve had – Microsoft Teams, things like that – to watch these guys, as I sit in the background and watch them try to build the relationship with the players has been pretty neat. They’re very creative. They come up with different ideas. On some levels, it’s actually more intimate because there’s either family running around in the background or somebody’s wife or kid might be there too, and I think that’s really great. It’s great for everybody to see that, both from the coaches’ and the players’ side. I would say for our challenge, both with special teams and defense right now, the biggest thing for us is – a lot of times in the spring we spend the period leading up to the offseason program not only preparing for the Draft but coaching the coaches. I think that’s the most important thing for us as we continue to grow is to coach the coaches. Certainly from that aspect of it, the coordinators being able to coach the rest of the coaching staff on scheme and terminology and what they’re trying to do – I would say that’s been maybe some of the bigger challenges for those two guys, Brayden and Cory, being able to dive in there with that. But we’ve had some good calls, just like this with the Zoom calls, and we can share out information and go through the playbooks and go through video. The video one is interesting. We’re doing a lot of different stuff with technology to see what works best. We’ve done everything from implementing video into these calls to actually just old school, point the back of the camera at the screen and just show it that way because the feed rate through the Zoom or Microsoft Teams, the compression rate works better when you just do off the camera, sometimes it skips a little bit when you embed it. So it’s just been interesting from that aspect of it.
“I have addressed the full team – which has been really cool. We started with the offseason program last week, so awesome meeting last Thursday. You got a chance to see everybody. Kind of trying to work out the kinks Monday and Tuesday, doing a lot of individual meetings and a lot of position group meetings, just to get the guys used to the technology and logging in, so when we logged in with everybody on Thursday, it was awesome. It was four pages of faces. I’m scrolling through trying to see everybody and just get caught up. It was really exciting; there was great energy. The players were excited, I think, to see each other. Certainly in these times where maybe you’re used to seeing the same faces day-in and day-out when you get on a call with a hundred players-plus – it’s pretty cool from that aspect. I thought that was neat. We had another big meeting yesterday, we have another one today. Yesterday was really interesting, we actually had a technology, little mishap I’ll call it, where the call dropped. People lost WiFi. So you instantly go into a panic mode, you’re like, ‘OK, now what? How do we get a hundred people back on a call?’ Within two minutes, everyone was back on – so that was pretty awesome. I thought that was great. Certainly there’s going to be those types of challenges going forward, and it’s just great to see our guys be able handle those situations, log back in and – you know, probably in the end, they’re more comfortable with this technology than any of the coaches. So they’re used to this stuff, they can just click on and clock off, and they probably have phones and tablets and computers. Most of us, if we’re not in the same spot, in the exact same situation, clicking on the exact same app, we’re lost. But those guys are pretty good at adapting in those situations. It’s been pretty cool from that aspect.”
On his recollection of the 2011 NFL lockout and if there was something he learned during that offseason that can be applied to the current virtual offseason programs: “Certainly that was an interesting year for us – different but same circumstances where we obviously were not in contact with the players and they weren’t here for the spring, from that aspect. So I do feel like this is – with technology and where we’re at now as compared to then, I feel that we’re obviously (have a) great opportunity to do something this spring. I thought the leadership of the team back then was really important and that’s something that we talked to our guys last week about stepping up and really taking control of the situation. Certainly first and foremost, what’s most different is right now I’m still very concerned with everybody’s safety. I think this thing’s going to move and loosen up a little bit in some of the states. I still just want everyone to be really careful, just stay healthy from that aspect of it, otherwise it can be just – it’s a real thing. I think for us, the biggest point is just making that emphasis of really strong leadership among the coaches and the players, among each other, trying to maximize the amount of time. I think there’s probably a little bit of an edge that some teams will be able to get here this spring in these situations based on the makeup of the team. We’re going to try to get as much as that edge as possible and a lot of that just has to do with the guys going out and doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s really a good question, I would say from a standpoint of what the League and the P.A. (Player’s Association) and the coaches has worked out, as far as the offseason programming choices – so being in the virtual classroom versus the virtual workout programs and those situations, and we elected to go with the virtual classroom because I thought the information was important for us to be able to talk to the players and communicate exactly some of the terminology – especially with two coordinators – and really, just have full trust (that) our guys are going to do what they need to do from a physical standpoint. I think that’ll be the biggest key for making sure they come back physically ready to go, but I think our guys understand what training camp looks like, and I think they understand what the demand for them physically is at this point. For us, it’s about getting the information out there. I think one of the things in 2011 that was unique too was just how training camp was handled, understanding that we didn’t have that spring teaching to go along with it. So we really took it a little bit slower, if that makes any sense, and how we handled some of that stuff from a playbook standpoint so that we could actually just get the on-field work done at the highest level, if that makes sense.”
On if has watched “The Last Dance”: “I haven’t watched it because that’s one of those things where when I get that time, I just want to binge all of it at once. I’m a big Michael Jordan fan from a standpoint of the competitiveness that he brought every single day. We do a lot of stuff with the team where I really enjoy watching things like that with the players. There’s certain 30-for-30 specials, different documentaries that I like to watch, and I think some of that perspective of older professional athletes – and sometimes when it’s out of our sport, it has an even bigger impact – things like that that we can relay to the guys. So that’s definitely one of those deals where I’m waiting. I want to do it all at once and then (there’s) probably some really good messages in there for everyone to take away from. I was really fortunate to be around Doc Rivers for a little while when I was out in Boston and talk about the competition between those two and some of those stories and how competitive they were. I love that stuff. I love just that competitive to the bone, on the court, on the field – like hey, it’s competition to the max. I love that stuff. So I’m excited about it. I know a couple of our guys have been watching it. We’ve been talking about it a little bit, but that’ll be a good one for me, definitely.”
On if familiarity with scheme and personnel contributed to the free agent plan: “I would say (that’s) a really good question. Definitely part of the process, but actually probably not the initial part of the process. Really when we sit down way before free agency begins, and we’re looking at rosters and team building, one of the things that Bob (Quinn, executive vice president and general manager) and his staff and my staff like to do is say, ‘OK, what is the big picture look like? What does the spring look like from the standpoint of availability?’ And what I mean by that is player availability. So free agency, the Draft, all of the different areas that you build your team – you know there’s basically a couple different ways to build your team. There’s free agency, there’s the Draft, there’s the 53-cut down and there’s trades. That’s really the major ways that you can change the team, those four avenues. So with two of them back-to-back, between free agency and the Draft, one of the things that I think everyone did an outstanding job this year of is identifying ‘what are our needs,’ ‘what do we really need to do to help this team and the areas and the positions,’ and then ‘where do we think there’s a surplus of players to get those needs filled.’ Was it, ‘Hey, we think the Draft is really deep in this area? We think free agency is going to be deep in this area.’ There might be areas where we feel like, ‘Hey, we’re really going to struggle to fill this need because it’s going to be hard in both of these situations coming up,’ and that’s something we’re going to have to keep long-term from a team-building standpoint in the forefront of the conversation. I think that we put a plan together like that on how we needed to fill all those needs, and then things change in the course of that process as you’re going along, and you have to be ready to monitor and adjust. I think one of the things that certainly comes up in those quick decisions, especially in free agency, is how is the player’s fit, and how does he fit into the system, and does he have familiarity with the system. Those are the questions that then come up where there might be some guys that are familiar or have the same techniques or learning that maybe we’re teaching that it’s going to be quicker from that standpoint. For instance, a Chase Daniel who has a West Coast background – he’s been in that system for a while so the vernacular from ‘Bev’s’ (Darrell Bevell, offensive coordinator) to the stuff that he knows, that transition is going to be quicker. He’s going to be able to pick the information up faster. So when we’re in that situation, we’re looking for some depth at the quarterback position, a guy that we’re familiar with, a guy that we think helps us and fits our needs, plus on top of that, he’s not going to spend all that time trying to learn the language – because it really is like learning a new language I think when you change systems. He’s going to be able to pick up the information a lot faster. That is definitely maybe one example of where that comes into play for guys that have some background in it, and it does help.”
On what the club is sending players to help them with strength and conditioning expectations: “I would say really interesting, kind of what’s going on right now. Josh Schuler is doing a great job of –what we did is basically this, we established different levels of ways to reach out to the team and tried to just get a ground base of what’s everybody’s situation. So, when we talk about taking care of your bodies, there’s a lot that goes into that. You know, stretching, hydration, nutrition, rest, recovery and then there’s obviously the strength training. And I would say probably the biggest element that is different for everybody is the strength training portion of it because everyone has different setups. Whether you have gyms in your garage, you have equipment, you don’t have equipment – honestly, some of our guys were stuck in apartments in the middle of New York City, Manhattan and they couldn’t go anywhere. So, that’s a completely different set of situations than one of our players that might be in the middle of Arizona and he has a lot of space. Or a situation where another guy where there’s a gym down the street that he can go into at 6 a.m. when no one’s there and have all the equipment available. So, we tried to go through and take a gauge of like what’s everybody’s situation and just mark, ‘OK, what do you need. Is there something that you need that we can help you with from that standpoint to get you going.’ So, we have individualized all of those programs, whether it’s a bodyweight program, where, OK, ‘Hey, can we get you a couple kettle bells, a bar for the apartment if you’ve got to use your bodyweight, something like that.’ Two guys, let’s say, ‘Hey, I have a full rack, I’m good. I’ve got bench. I’ve got a rack. I’ve got a full gym.’ And we’ve individualized all those programs for those situations."