Our long regional nightmare is over. With the Patriots hiring Bill O’Brien as their new offensive coordinator, we can finally close the book on Matt Patricia's and Joe Judge’s disastrous tenures on that side of the ball.
But the carnage they’re leaving behind could be everlasting. Everybody was a loser with Patricia calling plays and Judge coaching Mac Jones, including Bill Belichick himself.
Just two weeks into the Patriots’ offseason, it’s apparent that Belichick no longer enjoys autonomy. Robert Kraft sent an email to season ticket holders the morning after the Patriots’ crushing regular-season finale loss to the Bills, pledging they would scrutinize every aspect of their football operation.
Shortly thereafter, the Patriots released an uncharacteristic press release, in which they announced contract extension talks with Jerod Mayo and the start of their offensive coordinator search. Given that Belichick loathes transparency, it’s clear that press release came from upstairs.
The Patriots’ brand has been tarnished, and they must win back goodwill.
In Kraft’s eyes, Belichick earned the right last season to assemble an unconventional coaching staff filled with ambiguous assistants. Patricia and Judge didn’t possess any meaningful experience coaching offense; and yet, they were in charge of the operation. Belichick’s strange move was widely pilloried from the start, but the Patriots stuck with it.
They wound up getting burned.
Now it seems like Belichick is no longer acting alone. Mayo reportedly participated in the offensive coordinator interviews, signaling he could be moving into an associate head coach-type role. It’s worth noting that he turned down a head coaching interview with the Panthers to stay in New England.
With that in mind, Mayo was probably promised a bigger role, and more money.
Speaking of big roles, O’Brien will likely take control of the offense, phasing Belichick out. Following several bad drafts, the Patriots started employing a more collaborative approach on the player personnel side, and it’s worked out. Their 2021 draft class, which included Jones, Christian Barmore and Rhamondre Stevenson, was their strongest in years.
The same transition seems to be happening on the coaching side. As NFL Media’s Mike Giardi notes, O’Brien, who spent six years as the Texans’ head coach and the last two seasons as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, is probably commanding a sizable salary. Other potential coaching staff additions, such as Adrian Klemm, would likely garner big money, too.
Belichick is losing power.
Young quarterbacks are the most valuable asset in the NFL, and there’s no doubt that Belichick set Jones back with the Patricia and Judge experience. The second-year passer regressed in every statistical category this season, and often acted histrionically on the field when he disagreed with the play calls.
Jones showed up Patricia on national television multiple times. Those images are indelible.
That leads us to Patricia and Judge themselves, who might be the biggest losers in all of this. Coming off of awful head coaching runs with the Lions and Giants, respectively, Belichick seemingly wanted to help rebuild their reputations. In today’s NFL, working on the offensive side of the ball is the best way to do that.
But now, Patricia and Judge are toxic. Patricia may leave the Patriots or get kicked upstairs to some back office role, and Judge might head back to special teams.
Belichick tried to prop them up. Ironically, he destroyed them.
What an all-around debacle.