Was the fact that Matt Patricia and Joe Judge called offensive plays for the Patriots during Thursday’s preseason opener a sign of a true competition or a mere ruse?
When asked during the assistant coaches’ media availability before Monday’s practice, Patricia seemed to hint the answer leaned closer to the latter.
“Honesty it’s just collaborative,” Patricia replied when asked to describe the offensive coaching arrangement with Belichick and Judge during training camp. “We follow Coach Belichick’s lead. I’m just trying to do my job to my best ability, whatever he asks me to do…we’re all just working together right now which is the great part about it.
Notably, that meant handing off play-calling duties on Thursday after a quarter or so and serving in his more traditional “offensive line coach” capacity while Judge ran the offense.
So does that mean Patricia feels Belichick is making him duel with Judge to call plays?
“No,” Patricia said. “We’re just 100 percent trying to make sure we do everything possible as coaches to allow our players to go and do everything they can on the field. That’s the important part, not the rest of it.”
Take it with a grain of salt if you will, of course. There’s no reason to think Bill Belichick would allow his assistant coaches to openly declare they were competing to call plays, after all.
But the way the Patriots have operated in practice since mandatory minicamp has unwaveringly suggested Patricia was the clubhouse leader to call offensive players.
That’s why having Patricia call players for just two offensive series — the two that involved the “starting offense” — before giving way to Judge and then spending more time with the offensive line threw a lot of people for a loop.
But unless the Patriots begin to give Judge more burn as a play-caller when the first-team offense plays during joint practices and preseason games, that odd piece of the “process” Belichick alluded to Thursday night might have been much ado about little.