Bill Belichick says he’s not worried about titles. For the New England Patriots, that includes such (usually) important titles as “offensive coordinator” and “defensive coordinator.”
In the wake of losing longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the Patriots have yet to name a direct replacement. Instead, they’ve noted that offensive assistant Joe Judge and senior football advisor Matt Patricia will be a part of the offensive coaching staff in roles that still appear nebulous from the outside.
“Everybody will have a defined role, like they always do,” Belichick said Monday at the NFL owners meetings. “Again, the offseason’s the offseason. Once we get to getting on the field, coaching the players and game plan and things like that, then that’ll all work itself out.”
But what exactly are those roles? What exactly will Judge (fresh off his stint as Giants head coach) and Patricia (a former defensive coach who mostly worked in the front office last year) do on the offensive side of the ball? Who’s going to be calling the plays?
Speaking at a crowded conference hall at the 2022 NFL owners meetings, Belichick was keeping all of his coaching staff’s details close to the vest. But for now, he says this is the coaching staff they’ll be moving forward with.
“We won’t be calling any (plays) for a while,” Belichick said. “Yeah, I think our staff is complete. I wouldn’t rule anything out. But I don’t think we necessarily have to hire anybody else. But we’ll evaluate every situation as it comes.”
Suggesting that the coaching staff is “complete” throws a wet towel on any lingering rumors surrounding the Patriots potentially looking for a reunion with former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who’s now with Alabama.
The Patriots have been considered short-handed on the coaching staff for much of the offseason after McDaniels’ departure, which also included receivers coach Mick Lombardi, offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo and quality control/quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegee following him to Las Vegas.
It also doesn’t lend a lot of optimism to whether the Patriots will actually outline what the coaches on this staff will actually do. Some coaches, like well-regarded tight ends coach Nick Caley are easy enough. However, new additions and transitions like Judge and Patricia have vaguely defined roles.
“Yeah, I’m not big on titles,” Belichick said. “We have jobs to do. We’ll do the jobs.”
Sure. Yeah. OK. But what is Patricia’s actual job?
“Broad role, very broad,” Belichick said. “He does a lot of things, helps me in a lot of ways.”
Got it. So how will it go having a longtime special teams guy like Judge and a former defensive coordinator like Patricia focusing on offense?
“I’m not really worried about that,” Belichick said. “I think a good coach is a coach and Matt’s a great coach, Joe’s a great coach. They’ll help us no matter what position they coach.”
So what do we know about the Patriots coaching staff heading into 2022? We have a general picture. But the hierarchy – outside Belichick being at the top – remains murky.
On offense, Judge and Patricia will help out while returning coaches like Caley, Troy Brown and Vinnie Sunseri appear to be heading for bigger roles. On defense, things are a bit clearer. Steve Belichick returns as the defensive playcaller while Jerod Mayo continues to establish himself as a key leader on that staff.
Who will be calling in the plays to Mac Jones this season? That much isn’t clear. But we should start to get a clearer picture as we get into OTAs, mini camp and training camp this offseason.