The New England Patriots are expected to enter the 2022 season with an unproven commodity calling their offensive plays.
It won’t be the first time that’s happened.
In a candid interview with The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy ahead of Sunday’s season opener against the Miami Dolphins, head coach Bill Belichick downplayed the fact that lead offensive assistants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge have no offensive play-calling experience.
“I don’t see it any differently than it was in the last 22 years,” Belichick told Shaughnessy on Thursday. “Look at our other offensive coordinators. We had Charlie (Weis). Then Josh (McDaniels). He’d never called offensive plays. Billy O’Brien (who succeeded McDaniels) never called plays in the NFL. Josh came back. We’ve changed coaches in every area, multiple times.
“Defensively, Matt Patricia had never called plays. Then he won a couple of Super Bowls. Brian Flores (who succeeded Patricia) had never called plays. That worked out all right. Steve (Belichick) has been calling defenses. We were pretty high up there statistically last year. We didn’t play well obviously in the Buffalo game and a couple of other games, but I wouldn’t say we had a bad year defensively. At least not statistically.
“We have plenty of coaches that didn’t have previous experience, and it’s worked out pretty well with most of them, but not all of them.”
Patricia, a former Patriots defensive coordinator and Detroit Lions head coach, is expected to call offensive plays this season, though Belichick has yet to confirm that. New England is the only NFL team without an official offensive or defensive coordinator, with Belichick declining to name a replacement for McDaniels after the longtime OC left for the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason.
Coaches and players have described the Patriots’ controversial offensive coaching setup as a collaborative effort led by Belichick, Patricia and Judge. Patricia’s and Judge’s official titles are senior football advisor/offensive line coach and offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach, respectively.
Belichick, though, has stressed that he has final say, which he reiterated in his interview with Shaughnessy.
“I think they’re both good coaches,” he said of Patricia and Judge. “Ultimately, it’s my responsibility, like it always is. So if it doesn’t go well, blame me.”
The Patriots also made changes to their offensive scheme following McDaniels’ departure, and the transition has been far from seamless. New England’s first-team offense struggled this summer, with five of its seven preseason possessions ending in a three-and-out (four) or an interception (one).
That group will face its first true test this Sunday as the Patriots visit the division rival Dolphins in Week 1.