PLYMOUTH, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ offense will look — or, at the very least, sound — different following the departure of longtime coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Speaking with NESN.com on Thursday, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne said the Patriots’ revamped offensive coaching staff — which lost McDaniels and four other assistants this offseason — is running a “new system” this season.
Bourne didn’t share specifics about this system but said it uses different verbiage than the offense New England ran under McDaniels.
“New words, new terminology. That’s the biggest thing,” Bourne said at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts Golf Classic at Pinehills Golf Club. “Football is football; I say it all the time. It’s lines on the paper, and you follow the lines, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to be a football player, and you have to sometimes adjust. You can’t just follow the exact line and get covered. You have to be a savvy football player.
“I’m getting paid to use my ability, and they put me in position to use my ability. So once I’m in position and know what I’m doing, now it’s time to use my ability, and that’s the biggest thing. So (I’m) learning the new terms and just building that relationship with the new coaches.”
The most notable of those new coaches is Joe Judge, who returned to New England this offseason following an unsuccessful two-year run as head coach of the New York Giants. Judge primarily focused on special teams during his first Patriots stint, but he’s now tasked with coaching up Mac Jones and the team’s other quarterbacks.
Judge and Patricia could be serving as de facto pass and run game coordinators, respectively, though the Patriots have yet to announce official titles for any of their 2022 assistants. Head coach Bill Belichick also has devoted far more attention than usual to the Patriots’ offense during spring practices.
It remains to be seen whether Judge, Patricia, Belichick, some other assistant or a combination of multiple coaches will call offensive plays for New England this season. It’s also unclear exactly how the offense will change post-McDaniels, as it’s been difficult to glean much from the team’s two open organized team activities.
In a subsequent interview with ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Bourne singled out Judge when asked about the Patriots’ offensive transition, suggesting he could be the new man in charge.
“I think he’s putting us in position to be successful, so I’m excited so far,” Bourne told Reiss. “I’ve rushed the ball a lot and doing different things for myself, and he’s even using other players and their strengths. So hopefully we’ll have a great year, and we’ll see how it goes.”
McDaniels utilized Bourne as a receiver, rusher and passer last season, the wideout’s first in New England after four with the San Francisco 49ers. The 26-year-old emerged as the Patriots’ top big-play threat and enjoyed a career year, finishing with 55 catches for 800 yards and five touchdowns, plus 12 rushes for 125 yards and one touchdown pass.
Bourne said he expects a “better” 2022 season from both himself and Jones, who will be looking to build on a promising rookie campaign.
“(I have) a lot more explosion,” Bourne told NESN.com. “I feel like I’m a lot stronger. I’m getting better as the years go on, man, and I’m just a lot more comfortable with New England. Just playing with a lot more confidence this year, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m excited.”