Bill Belichick apparently won’t demote Matt Patricia as the Patriots’ offensive play-caller before the end of the regular season.
But after the season? New England’s head coach just left the door wide open for such a change.
By now, you probably have had the misfortune of watching the Patriots’ thoroughly unimpressive offense in action. Nearly every player, including Mac Jones, has regressed since last season, and now players, again including Jones, are going public with their grievances. New England is so boring and anemic on both sides of the ball that the NFL on Monday decided fans would rather watch the New York Giants play the Washington Commanders than the Patriots play Josh McDaniels’ Las Vegas Raiders.
“I think we need to do what we’re doing better,” the Patriots head coach said. “I don’t think at this point making a lot of dramatic changes — it’s too hard to do that. If we can just do consistently what we were doing, I think we’ll be all right. But we just haven’t been able to have enough consistency. … It’s not one thing. One time, it’s one thing, next time it’s something else.
“We just have to play and coach more consistently.”
Yeah, not exactly a full-throated endorsement. In fact, you easily could argue that Belichick was doing the opposite of endorsing Patricia, whom he so brazenly propped up before the start of the season.
Belichick seemingly admitted that a change is unnecessary while accidentally acknowledging one should’ve been made sooner. You don’t have to think too hard to infer that Belichick is open to addressing the situation during the offseason.
Are we reading too much into the remarks over the NFL’s most inscrutable head coach? Probably. But Belichick is as calculated with his interviews as he is annoyed by them, and his comments on Patricia run in stark contrast to the way he used to talk about McDaniels — as they should.
So, if Belichick eventually decides to demote or fire Patricia, whom could he tab as the person best fit to lead the Patriots offense in the (presumed) third year of the Jones era?
Old friend Bill O’Brien already is generating buzz as a potential candidate, as he did last offseason. It’s unclear whether the former New England offensive coordinator wants to ditch Alabama and return to the NFL, but recent reports indicate O’Brien once again has an eye toward the pros.
Current Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley also is worth keeping an eye on, although his situation is a complicated one.
In any event, what the Patriots do with the offensive play-caller position will be one of the top storylines of New England’s offseason. That could change if Patricia and the offense get their act together and finish the season on a hot streak, but so far there’s been no indication they’re capable of such a turnaround.
They’ll get their first chance next Monday night when the Patriots visit the underwhelming Arizona Cardinals.