Flowers, Amendola The Keys To What Comes Next For Patricia

By 97.1 The Ticket

It's like any business, said Trey Flowers. Any workplace, any company.

There are those who embrace the standards, and those who resist them. Especially when there's change at the top, there's disgruntlement below. 

Pushback was strong in Matt Patricia's first season with the Lions. His hard-driving style was a stark departure from the more player-friendly ways of Jim Caldwell. The locker room was healthier in year two, but there were still some key figures, like Darius Slay and Damon Harrison, unhappy with how things were run. 

"Whatever coaching staff you have, you’re gonna have guys accustomed to another coaching style or a different environment or a different way of just going about business," said Flowers. 

Flowers was Detroit's big acquisition last offseason, brought in from New England to bolster the Lions' pass rush. But also to bridge the gap from Caldwell to Patricia, to show those around him what the new coach expects. Flowers said he did his best last year to get everyone on board. 

"I gave as much insight as I could as far as what the expectation was or what the demand was and why is his demand of excellence is so high. Coach Patricia is a guy all about winning, however he can get that out of guys. He demands highly of them, he expects highly of them and his standards are very high, no matter what environment he goes in," Flowers said. 

That's not to say Slay and Harrison don't have high standards themselves. Harrison is one of the harshest self-critics you'll find. But Slay was put off by Patricia's abrasive demeanor as a coach, stemming from two ugly incidents in 2018, and Harrison was 'hell-bent on getting out of Detroit' because of Patricia's uncompromising vision on defense. 

"Any business you go in, you’re gonna have people that agree with things, people that don’t," said Flowers. "But as far as me being a guy that’s been around Coach Patricia and understands his style, I tied to shed light on it and explain it as much as I could. But that’s just how the business goes." 

Ask Danny Amendola about business. He's bounced around the NFL over 12 years, but he always felt at home in New England. He thrived in the unforgiving environment Patricia is trying to establish in Detroit. So the Lions brought him on board last year, then re-signed him this year. 

"I've played for all different types of coaches and offenses and methods," said Amendola. "What Coach Patricia has to offer is something I eagerly look for, because I know that I’ll get the best version of me."

Like Flowers, Amendola has helped reinforce Patricia's expectations. If enough of their peers follow their lead in 2020, the Patriot-bred duo might be the reason Patricia makes it to 2021. 

"Personally, the way I operate as a football player and the product that I put on the field in relation to the business I conduct, I want it to be as tough as possible in practice so when I get into the games, I’ve been there before," said Amendola. "I understand what it feels like to be tired in a game because I was tired in practice and I understand what my body can go through and how I can push myself mentally and physically." 

The Lions didn't stop after Flowers and Amendola. They went all-in on former Patriots this offseason, for better or worse, adding Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon and Danny Shelton to a defense that's struggled to execute Patricia's scheme and to a locker room that's been slow to embrace his tactics. 

They want a unified front, and they've decided this is the way to get it. 

"Adding guys that have been successful on successful teams, they understand what it takes," said Flowers. "They know how the defense should be run. Adding pieces like that, adding veteran guys that understand the scheme and the standard is a better source (for) other players that don't understand the scheme as much or are finding their way, or young guys who want to reach out and gain understanding about the culture of the locker room.

"Just having that accessibility with multiple guys in the locker room that have been successful is definitely a plus." 

Whether it adds up to something new is the crux of year three for Patricia.