Bill Belichick’s new-look offensive coaching staff has been one of the biggest storylines in New England this offseason.
Longtime Patriots offensive coordinator and trusted play caller Josh McDaniels moved on to become head coach with the Raiders. Joe Judge returned to Foxborough after a two-year tenure as Giants head coach, though the former New England special teams boss is now a member of the offensive coaching staff. Meanwhile after a year as a senior football advisor for Belichick, former Lions head coach and Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is now also a part of the offensive coaching staff.
The entire Patriots staff of assistants spoke with local reporters via Zoom for the first time this offseason and the individual roles on the offensive side of the ball became a bit clearer, at least somewhat.
The first question asked of Judge, who reportedly could be New England’s quarterbacks coach, was how closely he’s working this spring with second-year Pro Bowl quarterback Mac Jones.
“So I’ll give you a direct answer, not to be evasive or anything, I am working with Mac along with some other people on the offense,” Judge said. “I’m working with all the skill group on offense. I’d say all of us are working collectively as a coaching unit to work with the entire offense. So that’s the most direct and specific answer I could give you on that, guys. In terms of who’s coaching each position, you’ll see me on the field with the quarterbacks. We’ll be meeting together as a skill group. We’ll break off into individual meetings. For us right now it’s important for all of our coaches to be able to coach all the skill players OK, or for that matter the line players as well as we go through this. That’s been a main emphasis for us as a coaching staff, that we want to make sure that we can all coach all the players and that nobody is out there with a lack of knowledge.”
While Judge was pretty open regarding his new role working with Jones and the quarterbacks, Patricia sounds entrenched working the offensive line after the more multi-faceted, non-descript job he held a year ago, as has been reported.
“I’ve been able to be out there with the offensive guys, working with the offensive line and just kind of help those guys and work some technique and talk about just basic fundamental stuff,” Patricia said of the second phase of the offseason program at Gillette Stadium. “Really working with those guys up front.
“Specifically kind of spending time with the guys up front with the offensive line, which has been great for me. I came here a long time ago and I came in as an offensive line coach,” Patricia said of his college coaching background and a role in 2005 as New England’s assistant offensive line coach.
While Judge confirmed his work with the quarterbacks and skill players and Patricia is getting back to his “roots” with the offensive linemen, neither guy had much to say about just who might be calling the offensive plays this coming fall. ESPN reported this week that it would not be a surprise if Patricia, the former New England defensive play caller, ended up calling the offensive plays for Jones this fall.
“I’ll tell you directly and honestly right now, nothing has been declared or decided or voiced to me,” Judge said. “I know Matt is going to be the other one that’s asked or Nick Caley. Right now we’re all just working…like I said it’s mostly drills and skills we’re working offensively. I do think it’s critical for every coach on the offense to understand the game plan and be prepared as a play caller.
“In terms of who calls plays, to be honest with you that’s not the main focus for us right now as an offensive staff. When Coach (Belichick) wants us to go ahead and declare a role like that, he’ll tell us.”
Would the former Lions head coach Patricia be confident in calling offensive plays, flipping the script on the role he held in his previous tenure in New England?
“I think, right now for me, I’m just kind of focused on making sure whatever it is we’re doing on the field right now that I’ve got that handled and trying to help those guys become better players,” Patricia said. “That’s what’s fun about the NFL, the professionalism that goes with it, that’s involved with it. Those guys are on the field are just 100 percent trying to improve. Certainly as a head coach you kind of get involved with different aspects and different sides of the ball. But I’m just glad to be back on the field with the players.”
At some point, Belichick will have to pick a play caller from the group of options that apparently includes Judge, the young tight ends coach Caley and Patricia. But that apparently hasn’t happened yet and regardless of who gets that call those involved in the process don’t seem to see the current lack of clarity as a concern.
“When you are asking specifically about the play calling, in terms of play calling when Coach (Belichick) declares who he wants to do it, we’ll go ahead and move forward with that,” Judge said. “That’s not really going to be an issue. We have no egos on this staff. That’s not really going to be it. We’re all prepared to do whatever we have to do to help the team and we’ll always address each day with that mentality.”