New England Patriots

  • Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots senior football advisor Matt Patricia walks to the practice field at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots senior football advisor Matt Patricia walks to the practice field at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Matt Patricia is preparing for a major role in the Patriots offense ahead of Mac Jones’ pivotal second season. Or should we say, roles.

    Though officially labeled the Patriots’ senior football advisor and offensive line coach, Patricia is ostensibly the offensive coordinator, just without the title. At the very least, he’s the primary offensive play-caller, as evidenced by burying his face in a play sheet and walkie-talkie as the Pats huddle up before team drills.

    According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the “continued expectation” is for Patricia to be the play-caller and “de facto” offensive coordinator at the start of the 2022 regular season, confirming what’s been on display in Foxboro for the first two weeks of training camp.

    Head Coach Bill Belichick has stepped in and called a few plays of his own at times, as has Joe Judge, who’s officially listed as “offensive assistant/quarterbacks.” But Judge’s play-calls have come more in 7-on-7.

    Judge has also worked closely with the wide receivers during camp. Offensive assistant Evan Rothstein has worked closely with the quarterbacks. But it’s Patricia whose roles on the staff appear more multiple than the rest.

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  • Though it’s still early, with six weeks to go until the regular season, the results haven’t been there for the Patriots offense. The biggest problems have come up front, where the O-line has struggled to open holes in the run game or set the proper protections when Jones drops back. The stuffed runs and unblocked rushers have quickly added up.

    Jones said in his most recent press conference that everyone on the offense has to get “on the same page.” Can that also be said for the coaches? Considering the disjointed nature of the Patriots offense so far in camp, it’s fair to wonder if that’s a reflection of the disjointed nature of the coaching responsibilities right now. That, like the performance of the players, could improve with time. But it feels like time is needed, and roles still need to be defined.

    “I think we have an established culture here where we all understand there’s input that comes across the board,” Patricia told reporters Monday. “Certainly, when a hard decision needs to be made, we’re lucky enough that our head coach here is involved in all aspects of the game and has an expertise above anybody else, really, to be honest with you, in all those areas. So when we need a push in either direction, we can really rely on him, which is great to help us kind of get through any of those sticky points.”

  • Everything is incumbent upon Belichick to oversee the operation and help it coalesce. But the concern is the necessity for coalescence in the first place, and that a lot of it falls on Patricia’s shoulders.

    This feels like too much for any one coach, let alone one with no offensive coordinator experience, who hasn’t worked on the offensive side of the ball in 17 years.

    Patricia does have something of a background on the offensive line, having played four years as a center/guard at RPI before joining the Patriots as an assistant under legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. But from 2006-17, he worked his way up through the defensive ranks, serving as the Pats’ defensive coordinator from 2012-17 before becoming head coach of the Detroit Lions in 2018.

    While he certainly had a hand in the offense in Detroit, Patricia posted a 13-29-1 record as Lions head coach. Their scoring offense ranked 25th, 18th, and 20th from 2018-20. In Patricia’s final season in Detroit, they allowed the 10th-most sacks in the league (42).

    Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots senior football advisor Matt Patricia coaches quarterback Mac Jones (10) at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots senior football advisor Matt Patricia coaches quarterback Mac Jones (10) at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

  • Patricia is officially in charge of the offensive line, and it’s been the team’s shakiest position group in camp so far.

    There’s still plenty of time until the games start counting in the standings, so we’ll see how it comes together for the offense in the coming weeks. The problem hasn’t been the individual talent, so much as the overall execution.

    It’s also possible that Patricia hands off much of the O-line duty to assistant coach Billy Yates, a confidant who came over to the Patriots from Detroit in 2021, and frees himself up as “only” the offensive coordinator. Maybe, then, the operation will run smoother.

    But so far, the Patriots’ offense has been all over the place, and so have the offensive coaches. Those dots are unavoidably connected.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.