Patricia Prepares for ‘Mentally Tough’ Eagles Team
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - For modern Eagles fans Super Bowl LII remains a staple. For Matt Patricia, it's a distant memory from a different time in his life, his last game as the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots.
That winter night at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis wasn't a fond memory for either defense but the Eagles' issues were softened by a 41-33 shootout win and Patricia was "on to Detroit" as his old mentor Bill Belichick might say, albeit with only three Super Bowl rings instead of four.
Patricia and his defense get another opportunity at Philadelphia when his Lions visit Lincoln Financial Field for a Week 3 matchup on Sunday.
“This team [the Eagles were] different that year. Different kind of quarterback, different kind of just there were some differences from that year to what everything looks like right now. And we're in the same boat," Patricia explained when asked about the Super Bowl on a conference call earlier this week. "We look completely different. Obviously, I'm [with] an entirely new team."
There is so much turnover from year to year in the NFL that February of 2018 is a lifetime ago. Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP that season, is in Jacksonville watching Minshaw mania, while Jay Ajayi is unemployed coming off ACL surgery, and other Eagles players who starred in the SB win like Corey Clement (shoulder) and Alson Jeffery (calf) are injured and unlikely to play Sunday.
"You try to go with the core concepts, you try to explain what the foundation is, but really, it's about watching their team this year,” Patricia said.
After a 6-10 start to his head-coaching career, Patricia has his own team off to 1-0-1 start, an ugly tie against talent-deficient Arizona and a big 13-10 win over perceived AFC heavyweight, the Los Angeles Chargers.
As usual everything in the Motor City starts with quarterback Matthew Stafford, an 11-year veteran who still has upper-echelon arm talent.
“I'm just so blessed to have had the opportunity to be around him,” Patricia said of his signal caller. “From a coach's standpoint, he's everything you want as a head coach, as an offensive coordinator, as a teammate. He's a great guy. He's tough, he's smart, he works extremely hard. He wants to win. He's just all about the team."
Without a slew of injuries to their top skill-position players, the Eagles would be prohibitive favorites in this spot but DeSean Jackson was ruled out on Friday and Jeffery and Dallas Goedert are unlikely to play although Patricia isn't getting caught up in the injury report.
"I know that it’s a mentally tough team,” the Lions coach said. “The Eagles, they compete every single play, all the way through 60 minutes, and I think you see it in the last two games. They’re always going to stay aggressive. They’re going to keep coming after you, and you got to be ready for a full game."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen