As seemingly everyone during the offseason questioned Bill Belichick’s bizarre plan for the Patriots offense, New England’s head coach did everything he could to keep the spotlight off Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.
“Ultimately, I’m responsible for all of it,” he said during a WEEI interview in August. “If you want to ask who’s in charge, then it would be me. I have the final say in everything. That’s the way it’s been, and I don’t see that changing.”
Belichick sang a similar tune a few weeks later.
“I think they’re both good coaches,” he said of Patricia and Judge during a conversation with The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy before Week 1. “Ultimately, it’s my responsibility, like it always is. So if it doesn’t go well, blame me.”
Long reluctant to confirm Patricia as the offensive coordinator, Belichick finally showed his cards while talking to Shaugnessy, who asked about Patricia’s and Judge’s lack of experience with offensive play-calling.
“I don’t see it any differently than it was in the last 22 years,” Belichick said. “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.”
Well, as expected, things haven’t worked out for Patricia and the Patriots offense.
New England’s offense has regressed in nearly every way, with sophomore quarterback Mac Jones among many players enduring worse seasons than they had in 2021. Patricia’s play-calling has drawn harsh external criticism throughout the campaign, and Patriots players — including Jones — recently have gone public with their frustrations over the direction of the offense.
When asked Monday morning on WEEI whether he still was willing to shoulder the blame for the offense’s struggles, Belichick kept his word.
“I’m responsible,” Belichick said during his weekly “The Greg Hill Show” interview. “I’m responsible for our team’s performance. I accept that.”
Belichick, in a rare revelatory interview, also said he had no plans of demoting Patricia as the offensive play-caller. He said it’s too late to make any “dramatic” changes.
Belichick’s acknowledgment of the offensive failures, as well as his lack of an actual endorsement of Patricia, indicates he’s open to major changes during the offseason. And he better be, as New England’s offense has descended into a dysfunctional mess and can’t continue as currently constituted.
Belichick likely never thought things would reach this point, but they have. At least he’s willing to admit that he’s at fault.
With all that said, the Patriots’ season is far from over. At 6-6 and with five regular season games remaining, New England still has an opportunity to push for another playoff appearance.
The Patriots will look to get back on track when they visit the Arizona Cardinals next Monday night.