Maybe all of the blame for the Patriots’ woeful offensive strategy on game days last season shouldn’t fall on Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.
Bill Belichick might be responsible, too.
Belichick moonlighted as the Patriots’ offensive play caller in 2022, reports Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. The convoluted process seemed to only cause more confusion.
“My understanding is Belichick was active on the headsets on game day, having the sort of oversight over the offense that he’d traditionally had over the defense, and moonlighting as play-caller at points (which is why, at times, calls were late going in, and the offense could look messy from an operational standpoint),” wrote Breer.
That explanation makes sense: the Patriots struggled to get calls in during crucial spots last season, resulting in on-field outbursts from Mac Jones. Perhaps most notably, the Patriots fumbled a goal line sequence against the Raiders Week 15, in which they took two timeouts and moved five yards backwards.
Last summer, Belichick tried to streamline the Patriots’ offense, so it could operate with more efficiency. But the revelation that Belichick stepped in as the play caller last season shows that initiative failed.
Having two de facto offensive coordinators is the opposite of streamlining the operation.
Last week, the Boston Herald’s Andrew Callahan and Karen Guregian published multiple quotes from people “inside and around” the Patriots’ organization about their dysfunctional campaign. One source called the process “disheveled,” while another one said the offensive staff suffered from a lack of cohesion.
Apparently, when players would ask Patricia and Judge about how to counter other teams’ adjustments, they would demur.
With that in mind, it’s understandable why Belichick maybe felt obligated to step in. But at 70 years old, it’s apparent he was stretching himself too thin. The Patriots were one of the most penalized teams in the league last season.
With Belichick micromanaging the offense, there was seemingly less attention to detail.
With Bill O’Brien on board as offensive coordinator, Belichick should be able to focus on other areas where the Patriots must improve.
That’s what’s best for the football team, anyway.