One of the biggest things Matt Patricia has had to learn in his first year as head coach is how much information to give his players and in what fashion, and that's especially true this week as the Detroit Lions face Patricia's old team, the New England Patriots.
Patricia spent six seasons as the Patriots defensive coordinator before joining the Lions in February and knows the Patriots well.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels hired Patricia as a quality control assistant in 2004, and Patricia said the two "spent a lot of time together trying to figure a lot of things out on offense just to try to keep that thing going over there."
Patricia practiced daily against McDaniels offense when the two were coordinators from 2012-17, and he knows intimate details about much of the offensive and defensive personnel.
"I think the biggest thing for me is I've got to make sure I don't almost give too much information to our players where I obviously know that team on a very intimate level where I kind of overdo the information to our players where I think they're almost paralyzed in effect," Patricia said. "They still have to go out and they still have to play. They have to be able to function, they have to be able to communicate, they have to be able to execute, and that's really the biggest thing for us is to go just play a good game, have a good game plan, go out and execute at a high level and be ready to compete for 60 minutes."
Patricia said his default is to pour as much information as he can into players because he learned as a young coach that most players prefer it that way.
"You certainly don't want to under-give information to a player that can handle a large amount of it," Patricia said. "Sometimes it's individually based. You've got to deal with each guy to whatever their strengths are and handle it that way, but certainly from a standpoint of, the biggest thing for me is to make sure these guys are prepared and ready to go and that's probably I would say the thing that keeps me up at night the most, is just make sure I'm doing everything I can to give them all the information they can have to go play the game."
When the Lions and Patriots play Sunday, the Lions (0-2) will try and snap out of a funk that has them looking like one of the worst teams in the league.
They enter the week last in the NFL in rushing defense, tied for last in scoring defense and tied for last in turnover margin.
Patricia will face both McDaniels and his mentor Bill Belichick for the first time as a head coach, but he downplayed that meeting on Wednesday.
"I think in the end, it really comes back to just having a good game plan and good execution, hopefully coaching well enough to give the players the opportunity to come out and do it the right way," Patricia said. "I don't think it's anything really more than that. It's really about the players and the game itself more so than I would say it is about anything else."
SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Patriots lead series, 7-4, and have won both games at Ford Field. The most memorable meeting between these teams came in 1993, when the Patriots tied the game on a touchdown with 12 seconds left in regulation, but Barry Sanders ran for 19 of his 148 yards in overtime to lead the Lions to a 19-16 win.