FOXBORO, Mass. — There was nothing that happened during Monday’s OTAs opener that eliminated the possibility of Bill Belichick calling offensive plays for the Patriots this season.
In fact, after New England’s well-attended practice outside Gillette Stadium, it’s easier than ever to envision Belichick succeeding Josh McDaniels in 2022.
The mystery surrounding the Patriots’ offensive coaching staff has been a hotly debated topic all offseason — even Mike Krzyzewski has a take. Some reports have indicated that Joe Judge will carry the playsheet, while others have identified Matt Patricia as the likeliest coach to handle playcalling duties. At least one report has suggested the two could engage in a play-calling competition in training camp. With nobody on New England’s staff saying anything about their specific roles, speculation has persisted into late spring.
All the while, there have been some rumors indicating Belichick could give himself an increased offensive role in Year 2 of the Mac Jones era. During a news conference before Monday’s practice, the Patriots head coach was asked point-blank whether he’ll call offensive plays this season.
“I’ve called them and I haven’t called them,” the 70-year-old said. “And other people have called them and they haven’t called them. So, we’ll see.”
That’s a classic Belichickian answer, to be sure. And it was par for the course with much of what he said Monday when asked about New England’s offensive coaching staff. But it also wasn’t a denial.
The confirmation we did receive arrived moments later on the practice field when Belichick showed he very much is involved on offense — at least at this point.
Belichick spent roughly the first 40 minutes of practice closely watching quarterback/receiver drills, which were led by Judge and Troy Brown. Judge, who called plays at various points Monday, was the most vocal coach during these drills.
Those roles largely stayed the same during 7-on-7s, with Judge communicating plays to Jones and Belichick observing. Then, during the run-heavy portion of 11-on-11s, Matt Patricia, the apparent offensive line coach/running game coordinator, called the bulk of plays, many of which were running plays.
However, things took a newsworthy turn at the end of practice. With every player in attendance together (some only watching) for 11-on-11 work, Belichick was the one giving plays to Jones.
What this all means, and what it ultimately leads to, remains to be seen. It’s entirely possible that Belichick simply is keeping a closer-than-usual eye on the offense as Jones prepares for a pivotal sophomore season. That would make sense.
But what happened at Monday’s practice also ensured that, for now, we can’t rule out the possibility of Belichick holding an offensive playsheet when the Patriots take the field in Week 1.