Days before the New England Patriots Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Bill Belichick fielded questions about his decision to go with Joe Judge and Matt Patricia as the leaders of his offense despite neither having experience as a play-caller in their coaching careers.
Belichick told reporters if it doesn’t go well, “blame me.” Well, the blame is coming in like a rain of fire.
The Boston Globe’s Christoper L. Gasper took Belichick to task for his decision, questioning whether Judge or Patricia could perform their assigned jobs. Even more, Gasper implied Belichick’s particular fondness of Patricia has him perhaps the most ill-assigned of all the assistants.
“A sweat-soaked Patricia was exposed to the oppressive heat at Hard Rock Stadium, and the offensive line he oversees left Jones completely exposed on a pair of first-half sacks with Dolphins pass-rushers unblocked,” Gasper wrote. “The second sack was a pièce de résistance of no resistance. Miami’s Brandon Jones came untouched on a safety blitz for a strip-sack the Fins scooped up for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead with 7:34 left in the first half.”
The play Gasper described was one of the two back-breaking plays that doomed the Patriots n Sunday, especially considering they were having a tough time sustaining drives. It was also a punch in the gut to a defense that had played excellently to that point. The Patriots’ defense had Tua Tagovailoa on the run most of the first half and struggling to get the ball to his dynamic playmakers.
To have allowed the Dolphins an easy score with the defense playing well was a major discouragement.
“These are the type of basic communication and execution errors that have plagued the offensive line since the start of training camp,” Gasper continued. “Patricia is a former college offensive lineman and was assistant offensive line coach for the Patriots in 2005, but most of his coaching experience is as a defensive coach and coordinator. He’s the third Belichick son on the coaching staff and the one least suited to coach his position group.”
Is Belichick Too Connected to His Former Assistants?
Belichick’s affinity for Patricia and the seemingly widespread disapproval of it isn’t a new storyline. Patricia was an outstanding defensive coordinator for the Patriots from 2012-17. He helped the team win three Super Bowls. After spending 13 years with the Patriots organization, Patricia got an opportunity to be a head coach with the Detroit Lions in the 2018 season.
He failed miserably.
Patricia compiled a 13-29-1 record as the head coach in Detroit and was fired midseason in 2020. The Patriots brought Patricia back as a senior football advisor and offensive line coach in 2021. This past offseason, the Patriots lost offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to his second attempt as a head coach.
After failing as the head coach with the Denver Broncos, McDaniels was handed the keys to the Las Vegas Raiders. Rather than replacing McDaniels with an experienced offensive coordinator who had called plays before in the NFL, Belichick elected to go with Joe Judge (another former Patriots assistant and failed head coach) and Patricia in an OC by committee approach.
Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard has accused Belichick of living in an “alternate universe” with his decisions. So for as long as the problems with the Patriots’ offense persist, Belichick will continue to take heat for his decision to trust Patricia and Judge with the responsibility.
If things don’t turn around, Belichick’s decision will tarnish his own legacy, and it will also hurt Patricia and Judge’s chances of getting another shot at becoming head coach elsewhere. Needless to say, there is a lot on the line for everyone involved.
Patriots’ Best Offensive Performers
Everything on offense wasn’t negative on Sunday. One bright spot was the continued consistency and growth of WR Jakobi Meyers. While he didn’t put up great numbers, he made an excellent catch on the sidelines and continues to lead a mediocre group of receivers.
He paced them all with 4 catches for 55 yards.