Bill Belichick took a gamble before the 2022 NFL season with the New England Patriots offense by making Matt Patricia the play-caller and Joe Judge the quarterbacks’ coach. Months after facing scrutiny for the decisions, Belichick’s decision-making is again being questioned.
Patricia lacked any substantial experience coaching offense before this season. He previously served as an offensive graduate assistant at Syracuse (2001-’03) and later served as an offensive assistant on Belichick’s staff in New England (2004-’05). However, he found a home on the defensive side and it’s what landed him a job as the Lions’ head coach (2018-’20)
As for Judge, the 40-year-old’s only experience on the offensive side came in 2019 as the Patriots’ receivers coach. Outside of that and his two-year stint as the New York Giants’ head coach, special teams have been his area of specialty.
While Belichick stood by his decisions, there were immediate warning signs. Patriots’ players privately expressed frustration regarding the direction of the offense this summer. The reports were followed by concerning details from reports about issues with the scheme and offensive line throughout training camp.
The problems haven’t gone away. While New England boasts one of the best NFL defenses in 2022, it is being weighed down by one of the worst offenses in football and there is alarming regression from quarterback Mac Jones after a promising rookie season.
|Total YPG||Gross Pass YPG||Pass DVOA||Off. TD per game|
|New England Patriots offense (2021)||350.7 (15th)||240.6 (14th)||24.7% (10th)||2.8 (12th)|
|New England Patriots offense (2022)||319.5 (25th)||223.4 (23rd)||-11.9% (26th)||1.7 (26th)|
Belichick vowed before the season that he would take full responsibility if things went wrong. While he has downplayed criticisms of the offense and questions about changing play-calling duties, many around the league remain critical of the offense.
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Asked by Jeff Howe of The Athletic to describe the Patriots’ offense and weekly game plan, NFL evaluators who studied it have labeled it as “stale, predictable and disorganized.” While scouts and executives still believe in Jones’ long-term potential, they don’t think he can succeed due to the circumstances in New England.
When Josh McDaniels left to become the Las Vegas Raiders head coach, taking key Patriots’ assistants with him, Belichick had an opportunity to restock the coaching staff with top offensive minds and many viewed Bill O’Brien as the perfect replacement as offensive coordinator.
Instead, Belichick seemingly believed that calling plays and designing an offense could be done by anyone with enough NFL experience on either side of the ball. The results are an offense that ranks 17th in scoring with a quarterback who has the second-highest rate of passes (21.4%) behind the line of scrimmage.
In jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the second time in three years and without a postseason victory in the last four seasons, Belichick is facing increasing scrutiny from owner Robert Kraft. If the future Hall of Fame coach doesn’t believe changes are necessary to his coaching staff this offseason, Kraft might need to step in and make decisions in the team’s best interests.