Bill Belichick should pick a Patriots play caller ASAP


Technically, Bill Belichick can wait until just before the Sept. 11 season opener at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami before he picks an offensive play caller for his 2022 Patriots.

As Belichick loves to snarkily point out during the long NFL offseason, New England doesn’t need to be ready to play an actual game on May 18. Or any day between now and that Dolphins matchup.

Podcast Episode
6 Rings and Football Things
Why Bill Belichick is spitting in the face of coaching specialization
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

So he can keep both the clueless outsiders and, apparently, his assistant coaches in the play calling dark for another few months.

But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

Over the last two days of offseason Zoom calls with all of Belichick’s assistant coaches one thing that’s become crystal clear if you take those honorable men at their collective words, is that there is zero clarity inside the walls of the Gillette Stadium football offices as to who will replace longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as New England’s offensive play caller in 2022.

“I’ll tell you directly and honestly right now, nothing has been declared or decided or voiced to me,” offensive assistant Joe Judge said. “When Coach (Belichick) wants us to go ahead and declare a role like that, he’ll tell us.”

Even if he doesn’t tell the rest of the outside world, which is fine.

This isn’t about titles – it appears the Patriots will lack coordinators in a titular sense on both offense and defense in 2022. Maybe titles are just a thing of the past in New England.

This isn’t about media or fans having some “right to know” who is doing what job in New England. We most certainly do not.

It’s not even about Belichick’s Patriots falling in line with NFL norms in terms of naming position coaches’ roles or even having guys slotted in specific roles in the world of professional football that’s becoming more and more specialized – forget simple offensive coordinators, teams from high school to the NFL now regularly break that job into passing game and run game coordinators. Nope, New England has often followed its own set of organizational rules, often with plenty of success.

Rather, this about the men who’ll be in the arena, as Teddy Roosevelt might say. The men that matter.

This is about fairness. Fairness to the guy who’ll be calling plays on Sept. 11 in Miami and, maybe more importantly, fairness to the guy who’ll be hearing those play calls through his helmet against the Dolphins – second-year Pro Bowl franchise QB Mac Jones.

Unless we missed a memo, New England is still a place where Do Your Job is a tactical tenet and not just a slogan on a pricey t-shirt.

How can you do a job properly, and to the best of your ability, if you don’t know you are doing said job at a relatively late point in the process?

Whoever calls the first offensive play of the season in Miami will be doing the job for the first time in his NFL career. He is already behind the learning curve in a role that Belichick himself has emphasized not only the importance of, but the importance of experience within that role.

As the Patriots advance through the offseason program of workouts, they are embarking on Phase III next week that includes OTA action on the practice fields of Foxborough. Those workouts are often referred to as passing camps, the foundation of the passing game being put into place in for the quarterbacks and their pass catchers. It’s a critical early part in the process of what will become the Patriots offense.

Yet, at this point we don’t know who’s leading the offensive charge as OTA action arrives. Or who’ll be culling together the play calls scripted out for those workouts. Or Who’s building an early, close working relationship with Jones. Because the men involved apparently don’t know, either.

This isn’t about whether a former special teams coach like Judge or former defensive coordinator such as Matt Patricia is capable of being an offensive play caller, a role generally honed over years of experience and repetition, a skill that’s simultaneously a science and an art. It’s not about whether Nick Caley, the Patriots tight ends coach under McDaniels for the last five years, is ready for the promotion.

This is about allowing whoever is expected to fill McDaniels’ big play calling headset being given every opportunity to succeed in the role through proper preparation. About maximizing the offseason to get the play caller ready and more importantly build a rapport with Jones.

Belichick can wait until September to pick a play caller. As the guy whose son and 2021 defensive play caller Steve Belichick declared this week still “wears every hat” in the New England organization, the 70-year-old Belichick can do pretty much whatever he wants.

But that doesn’t mean he should.

The Patriots may not play a game for nearly four months, but the time is now for Belichick to pick a Patriots' offensive play caller. As Belichick himself might say, it’s in the best interest of that chosen coach, his quarterback Jones and, most importantly, the football team.

Podcast Episode
6 Rings and Football Things
Why Joe Judge working with Mac Jones may be the worst possible scenario for the Patriots
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing