Lucas Patrick remembers his thoughts while standing on the sidelines at Soldier Field last season watching Justin Fields play against his former team, the Green Bay Packers.
“Honestly, I was biting my tongue on the sideline hoping this guy doesn’t get loose,” Patrick recalled about Green Bay’s 24-14 win that day. “I mean he’s got it and you know he can sling it, he can run it, he can do everything but what I would say from our games specifically the game that was here.
“He’s tough. I mean he stood in there and he’s tough and he looked like he dealt with a lot this year not only coming in with that pressure he had but also physically dealing with some of the shots he took and some other things.”
The Bears have a different center now as Patrick made it clear he has come to Chicago to not only help with Fields’ development as starting center but also to end the dominance Green Bay has had in their series.
“Yeah, I mean I’ve been on the winning side, I’m going to stay on the winning side,” Patrick said. “We’re going to start winning these games. I firmly believe to win a Bears, Packers game you’ve got to be physical, you’ve got to be tough and that’s what we’re going to do here.
“It’s you know, typically I feel like whoever wins those games takes the North and like Ryan said that’s the goal here. Take the North, get to the playoffs, get a shot at the Lombardi.”
While that might inspire plenty of Bears fans who are tired of six straight losses to the Packers and Aaron Rodgers saying “I still own you,” it’s not as simple as saying they’ll end Rodgers’ streak.
That’s where Patrick’s physical but smart playing style could help.
“I’ve got a switch I can flip,” Patrick said. “I’m pretty low-key as you hopefully can see, I’m low-key right now.
“But once it’s time to play football, I don’t believe that it’s a contract sport. I believe it’s a collision sport and that’s how I like to play it.”
The problem the Bears had with their line last year was too many of the collisions ended up involving Fields in his rookie season. Broken ribs and an ankle injury combined to slow his effectiveness from him and limit his development from him just when he seemed to be making strides.
“I don’t want to speak too much on statistics but I’ve had a good track record over the last two years of blocking for a quarterback and keeping him petty clean and I plan to keep him as clean as possible so he can make the plays that he was brought in here to make, “Patrick said.
Benefits of Patrick in Lineup
Pro Football Focus graded Patrick above Bears 2021 starter Sam Mustipher, but not by much. He had a 57.5 PFF blocking grade to Mustipher’s 51.8. Neither is a really impressive number. Patrick was ranked 30th among centers and Mustipher 36th.
Patrick never has been one to worry about what others are saying about him. If he did, he probably wouldn’t have been playing in Green Bay much less getting a two-year deal for just over $ 8 million in Chicago.
An undrafted free agent out of Duke, he came up throught he practice squad ranks and then fought his way onto the roster. When Corey Linsley was hurt, he stepped in and also filled in at guard at other times.
Then former Fields Ohio State teammate Josh Myers injured his knee last year at center and Patrick relaced him.
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He got a little choked up at his press conference thinking about it.
“Sorry. It’s really cool. Just have gratitude,” he said. “I’m not here on my own and there’s a lot of people who did a lot of things for me to get to this point.
“I know it’s tough for y’all to hear but there’s some people up north than may have helped me along my way. Just have gratitude. You’re never looking too far ahead. You can stay in the moment and you can really enjoy what you’re doing and not look at it as a job. Because this is a dream. Never thought I’d be sitting in a room like this as a free agent signing. I’m just grateful. ”
One of those he has a relationship with was here ahead of him, new Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Knowing Getsy and the offensive style he’s bringing can’t hurt.
“Yeah, just the experience I have with it, from being with coach Getsy even when he was under (Mike) McCarthy and seeing that and then his maturation into what he was the QB coach for the last few years and being under him with that , “Patrick said.” So I understand a lot of what he wants to do and understand him as a person as well. ”
It could allow him to translate some of the offense to a team that will need the help.
He doubts Getsy will need much help in actual play calling even if he hasn’t done it in the NFL. Matt LaFleur let his assistants call plays in preseason and Getsy did it at Mississippi State for one year.
“I want to say he’s called two preseason games that I’ve been in, and we did pretty well, so it’s pretty exciting,” Patrick said. “He’s brilliant. I’m so glad that I get to be here with him. Yeah, he’s an awesome coach.”
Ending Packers Dominance
Anything will help the center as he is trying to help build a new offense, including establishing good ties with his new quarterback.
“You know it’s definitely going to be a lot of forced relationship conversations,” Patrick said. “Justin’s going to be pretty annoyed by me maybe but no, it’ll be fun. It’s just going to work. We’re going to have to trust each other.
“And I think also one of the good things about forming a good relationship is like I’ll have to listen because there’s a reason he was brought here and there’s a reason he is the player he is, and kind of listen to what he thinks he does well and what has worked for him and hopefully expand that as much as I can. ”
Before he left his old team, Patrick had a conversation with his old quarterback, the self-anointed “owner” of the Bears, Aaron Rodgers.
“We had a phone conversation — business is business on certain sides,” Patrick said. “But the relationship we have, we, he shared some special words and so yeah, he was congratulatory of me and quite a few people from that organization were.
“So I’ll still see those guys twice a year and it’ll feel good to beat them twice a year.”
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