We Tracked Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia, Joe Judge Throughout Patriots-Giants

The mystery continues

by

August 12

FOXBORO, Mass. — If you thought Thursday night would give us a better idea of who will call offensive plays for the Patriots this season… think again!

Seriously, the situation is more confusing now than it was a week or so ago, when it seemed like Matt Patricia was locked in as New England’s new offensive play-caller. And while Thursday night’s preseason loss to the New York Giants didn’t necessarily change our minds about Patricia’s role this season, it did plant more than a seed of doubt, and also made it seem like the Patriots truly might be considering some unorthodox ideas.

We followed Patricia’s movements throughout Thursday night’s preseason opener. But we also tracked Bill Belichick and Joe Judge, both of whom have been rumored as possible candidates to fill the play-calling vacancy.

Here are the top things that stood out, in note form:

— Patricia clearly delivered plays to quarterback Brian Hoyer during the first drive, holding a playsheet in front of his face and talking into a headset. After the drive, he conferred with Belichick and Judge for a couple of minutes before making his way over to the offensive line — remember: He’s listed as an o-line coach — which was being coached up by center David Andrews.

— Patricia again called plays on the second drive. When the Patriots were near the end zone, Hoyer called a timeout and walked to the sideline where he was greeted by Patricia — along with Belichick and Judge.

— After Tyquan Thornton caught a two-yard touchdown, Patricia went over a few things with Hoyer on the bench before again meeting with Judge and Belichick. He then cracked a couple jokes with Mac Jones and walked over to the offensive linemen.

— Patricia briefly chatted with Hunter Henry and other tight ends during New York’s ensuing drive. He was all over the sideline.

At this point, you’re probalby thinking, ‘What’s the point of this story? Patricia clearly is the playcaller.’ Well, we thought that, too, until the Patriots’ third drive.

— Judge took over play-calling duties once rookie QB Bailey Zappe entered the game early in the second quarter and handled the job for the rest of the game.

— As Judge stood at the edge of the sideline calling plays in the second quarter, Patricia always lurked nearby with his own playsheet. Belichick usually was further away, also on the edge of the sideline. Occassionaly they all would stand closer togther; other times they’d spread out.

— After one second-quarter drive, Judge talked with Zappe on the bench and then spoke to receivers, with position coach Troy Brown closeby.

— Judge, who’s listed as a quarterbacks coach, spoke with all three quarterbacks after the final drive of the first half.

— It was more of the same in the second half. Judge called plays for the rest of the game, with Patricia and Belichick doing their thing. Every once in a while, Patricia spoke with assistant o-line coach Billy Yates. Those two, and Andrews, combined to coach offensive linemen throughout the night.

And that’s pretty much it. It’s all very mysterious. The only thing we can say with any remote certainty is that Belichick, Patricia and Judge really are collaborating to lead the offense. They’re all heavily involved in one way or another — for now, at least.

So, what’s the deal? Is Belichick planning to have Judge and Patricia switch off during the regular season, too?

“Yeah, well, we did this game,” Belichick said after the game. “We did a lot of things in this game that are going to be beneficial in the long run, whether it was on the coaching staff, playing time, players that played and so forth. That’s all part of the process.”

Got it. But what’s the point?

“I thought it would be a good opportunity for us to do that,” Belichick said of the play-calling switcheroos.

When pressed and asked whether he’s decided who will call plays, Belichick told a reporter, “Don’t worry about that.”

That’s where we’re at with this storyline. Nobody except people with the Patriots know what’s going on, and Belichick has zero interest in talking about it. Thus, speculation on a legitimiately imporant topic will continue.

Here’s hoping next Friday’s game against the Carolina Panthers offers some clarity.

NESN.com’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.

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