Bill Belichick Feels ‘Good’ About Patriots Offense, Won’t Make Major Changes

'The system that we have in place, I feel good about'


December 6, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots rank near the bottom of the NFL in nearly every offensive category, falling precipitously from where they were last season under longtime coordinator Josh McDaniels.

But despite poor on-field results and growing frustration within his locker room, Bill Belichick is satisfied with the Patriots’ controversial setup.

“The system that we have in place, I feel good about,” the head coach said Tuesday. “Which includes the offensive staff, it includes me, it includes whatever the whole process is. Yeah. On defense, on offense, on special teams.”

Belichick offered that comment when asked about remarks he made Monday on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” In his radio interview, he said he would not implement any “dramatic changes” on offense, including taking play-calling duties away from Matt Patricia. Patricia had a successful run as New England’s defensive coordinator in the late 2010s but is calling offensive plays for the first time in his career.

“I mean, look, we’re not going to go to the wishbone offense here,” Belichick said Tuesday. “We’re not going to run the veer. Defensively, we’re not going to run some other team’s defense or whatever. Major changes — yeah, absolutely (not). We wouldn’t be able to practice it.”

Patricia has faced increasingly vocal criticism about his play-calling in recent weeks as the Patriots’ offense has scuffled.

Last month, Belichick confirmed linebackers C.J. Mosely and Shaquille Leonard were able to correctly predict New England’s play calls in wins over the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts, suggesting the Patriots had become too simplistic and predictable. Then, quarterback Mac Jones and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne both expressed their displeasure with the Patriots’ lack of downfield passing in last Thursday’s home loss to the Buffalo Bills, with Bourne also blaming “scheme” for their persistent struggles on third down (25th in the NFL).

Belichick offered a strong response to these critiques.

“Every week, we’re trying to win,” he said. “So whatever that is, that’s what it is. Whatever plays we call this week are to try to win. Whatever plays we called last week, they were to try to win. Whatever plays we called the week before, that’s what that was. Or last year, or two years ago, or five years ago, or 20 years ago. You can like them or not like them or whatever — I get that. But whatever we’ve done, it’s been to try to be as productive as we can and to try to beat whichever team we were playing.

“So whether that’s conservative, not conservative, the same, different — whatever it is, that’s what the intent of all of it is. That’s what it always is, so that’s not going to change. What they’ll be, I don’t know, but it’s a combination of what they do, what we do, what we think we can do. Any idea can be a bad idea if you can’t execute it, so if you can execute it, then it’s potentially a good idea. If you can’t do it, then it’s not going to work. If your team physically can’t do whatever it is you’re trying to do for whatever reason, then it’s probably not a good idea. Find something that you think you can do and that’s a good way to attack your opponent, then probably it’s worth talking about.”

Though Belichick ruled out making vast, sweeping changes with five games remaining, the Patriots have made beneficial late-season tweaks in the past. Notably, they morphed into a power-running offense late in the 2018 season and rode that shift — which Belichick and McDaniels spotlighted in the “Do Your Job Part III” documentary — to a Super Bowl title.

The odds of another championship run this season are low, but if the Patriots hope to even reach the playoffs, something needs to change for them offensively. They enter next Monday’s Week 14 road matchup with the Arizona Cardinals ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL in metrics like total offense, first downs per game, third-down conversion rate, red-zone conversion rate, sack rate, interception rate, expected points added per play and offensive DVOA, and they’ve scored just five offensive touchdowns over their last five games.

“I’d say we do that every year,” Belichick said Tuesday. “… Again, we have a pretty broad system here in all three phases of the game. That’s kind of what we do. We have multiple groups on defense, multiple coverages, multiple fronts. We have multiples on offense. We have multiples in the kicking game. You’ve watched us play. So there’s something that you trim. You trim the fat here and move it a little bit over in this direction, or maybe you add a little bit more of something that you feel like is going well.

“Maybe a player is doing something or some part of your offense or defense is doing something that’s a little bit more productive, and maybe you want to add a little bit more to that. So that would just be, I would say, shifting the emphasis. We do that every year. I mean, why wouldn’t you?”

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