Dan Orlovsky on Wednesday morning sounded the alarm about the Patriots offense, but did he actually make any good points?
During a “Get Up!” segment, the NFL quarterback-turned-ESPN analyst cited uncertainty on New England’s offensive coaching staff as reason for why he’s “highly” concerned about the future of Mac Jones. Following the departure of Josh McDaniels, the Patriots apparently will enter next season with Matt Patricia, Joe Judge and tight ends coach Nick Caley forming a collaborative approach to the offensive coordinator vacancy. Bill Belichick might be more involved on the offensive side of the ball, as well.
“For me, this is probably the most concerning thing that I have in the whole NFL right now,” Orlovsky said before bringing up a graphic showing the OC histories for Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow and Josh Allen. “There are a lot of things that are incredibly important to a young quarterback, a second-year quarterback. One of, if not the most, important is to have that same voice in your ear on a consistent basis. That guy that you’re talking football to on a daily basis to help your development. A guy that can sit there and tell you what’s real and what’s not. A guy that can sit there and tell you how they’re seeing the game, what’s going on, the feel of that; the development, the growth — all that stuff.
“You look at some of the young quarterbacks that have really ascended in their second or third years — look at who they’ve had in their ears when it comes to the consistency. Patrick Mahomes: Eric Bieniemy and Mike Kafka. Lamar Jackson: Has Greg Roman but then James Urban, their quarterback coach. Joe Burrow’s got Brian Callahan, their offensive coordinator, and Zac Taylor. Josh Allen has had Ken Dorsey and Brian Daboll.
“Like, these guys have had these offensive-minded guys that’ve been around the NFL in that kind of role, and there’s been a consistency of that. That’s no mistake that those guys took those jumps. And now we have Mac Jones, and think about this: Mac Jones gets Matt Patricia, who is a, I guess, failed defensive mind in the NFL, and he gets Joe Judge who is a failed special teams mind. That is massive, a massive issue to me.”
First of all, fans have every right to be concerned about what the Patriots are doing on offense. In addition to Belichick’s strategy being outright confusing, team owner Robert Kraft seems somewhat wishy-washy on the plan and people around the NFL reportedly are “flabbergasted” by the current makeup of New England’s offensive staff.
But Orlovsky went totally overboard, leaving all nuance on the ship. He assumed a bunch of stuff that we don’t know, omitted crucial context and engaged in hyperbole.
At this point, it’s unclear what exact roles, if they even can be described as such, that Patricia, Judge, Caley and Belichick will have. Moreover, it’s looking more and more like Caley, who’s been with the Patriots since 2015, potentially is being groomed as the next offensive coordinator. In a perfect world, McDaniels wouldn’t have gone anywhere, but there’s a case to be made that developing his long-term replacement is a better idea than hiring a quick fix like Bill O’Brien, who might be a flight risk.
By the way, if you doubt a tight ends coach can become a great offensive coordinator, consider that Daboll, whose fingerprints are all over Allen’s ascension to superstardom, was New England’s TE coach before Caley took over in 2017. Yes, Allen spent more time with Daboll than Jones did with McDaniels, but the Buffalo Bills promoting from within to replace Daboll (now head coach of the New York Giants) might be what the Patriots are trying to accomplish with Caley.
Of course, it’s possible that Caley isn’t the OC of the future, and that Patricia and Judge are the ones tasked with leading New England’s offense into a new era. The point is that we don’t know anything.
Though the benefits of coordinator consistency can’t be argued, head coaching consistency matters, too. We’ll concede Allen and Jackson, and the roles that Daboll and Roman played in their respective developments. But Mahomes and Burrow? Both of them play for offensive-minded head coaches. And none of those four quarterbacks have dealt with changes at head coach, something that factored into the downfall of Baker Mayfield as much as anything.
Belichick, whom Orlovsky conveniently failed to mention once, hasn’t gone anywhere. That matters.
As for Judge and Patricia, they absolutely failed as head coaches and are unproven as offensive coaches. But labeling Judge a “failed special teams mind” and Patricia a “failed defensive mind” is just flat-out wrong. Let’s also not act as if either are bad football coaches; Belichick believes in them for a reason.
Ultimately, there are real concerns about New England’s offensive coaching staff that warrant rational debate. Orlovsky, however, just cherry-picked a few talking points to assemble a rant about something controversial.
Then again, you probably should avoid those kinds of shows if you’re looking for nuance.