How Patriots Players Reacted To Offensive Changes In Spring Practice

'It's been pared down a little bit'


FOXBORO, Mass. — With longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels now in Las Vegas, the New England Patriots are rolling out what multiple players called a “new system” in spring practice.

Head coach Bill Belichick had a word for that system: “Streamlined.”

“We’ve had a lot of changes offensively in the last couple of years,” Belichick said before Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp practice. “It’s a good time to streamline things. We did that defensively a couple of years ago, and I think this is a good time to do it offensively. There’s an element of that every year.”

Those updates, according to players and reports, mainly have focused on terminology and have been aimed at simplifying an offense that was notoriously complex during the McDaniels/Tom Brady years. This year’s players, then, can expect a more straightforward system that should be easier for rookies like wide receiver Tyquan Thornton and running back Pierre Strong and veteran newcomers like DeVante Parker to digest.

Multiple Patriots players offered their insight on the new offense after Tuesday’s practice.

Offensive lineman Mike Onwenu: “It’s been pared down a little bit, but it’s still the same thing for the most part. So we all pretty much know what we’re doing, or we’re doing the same things. … (There are) a few plays where it’s little details, where you just have to remember it’s not like last year’s play call. … It really just makes you focus in.”

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson: “It’s just learning new things and just getting familiar with the new system. … You’ve just got to get in your books and know the playbook. It doesn’t matter what it was called last year. You’ve just got to be a student of the game and just pick up quick. It’s the NFL. … It’s just a new set of play calls, that’s it. It’s not too difficult.”

Running back Damien Harris: “I mean, every year, things change. You’ve got new players, new coaches, new schemes sometimes, and every day, I come in with the mentality to just learn and improve and do whatever I can. So whatever changes, whatever tweaks need to be made, that’s up to the coaches. They make those decisions, and as a player, it’s my job to come in with that mentality, ready to learn, be able to adapt, be able to handle anything they throw our way.”

Wide receiver Tre Nixon: “I feel like it’s a little bit different, but some of the verbiage they did keep from last year, and I feel like that’s helped the guys kind of pick up on a lot of things. But like with everything, you’ve got a coaching change, they want to put their own touch and their own feel on everything, and I love the direction everything’s heading.”

It remains to be seen who will be directing the Patriots’ offense once the season begins.

Belichick, quarterbacks coach Joe Judge and offensive line coach Matt Patricia have done so collaboratively during organized team activities and minicamp, and Belichick reportedly is undecided on which coach will call plays, though a report Monday from The Athletic’s Jeff Howe indicated Patricia is the “early favorite.”

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