ne of the biggest question marks for the New England Patriots is the status of the offensive coaching staff, and one ESPN analyst said he is worried about how it will affect Mac Jones.
Appearing on the April 6 episode of ESPN’s “Get Up!,” Dan Orlovsky said he is concerned about Jones’ development with turnover at offensive coordinator.
“For me, this is probably the most concerning thing that I have in the whole NFL right now,” Orlovsky said, pointing to the ascensions of AFC quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow and Josh Allen. Each had the same offensive coordinator in his first two or three years in the league. “There are a lot of things that are incredibly important to a young quarterback, a second-year quarterback. One of, if not the most, important is to have that same voice in your ear on a consistent basis.”
In 2021, his rookie year, Jones had former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels guiding him. But McDaniels, who is considered to be a quarterback guru, was hired January 31 as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, leaving a gaping hole in the Patriots’ coaching staff.
“(The offensive coordinator is) that guy that you’re talking football to on a daily basis to help your development,” Orlovsky said. “A guy that can sit there and tell you what’s real and what’s not. A guy that can sit there and tell you how they’re seeing the game, what’s going on, the feel of that, the development, the growth — all that stuff.”
ALL the latest Patriots news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Patriots newsletter here!
In discussing Mahomes, Jackson and Burrow — all quarterbacks who became stars in their second seasons — Orlovsky said they had consistent mentors in Eric Bieniemy, Greg Roman and Brian Callahan, respectively.
“Like, these guys have had these offensive-minded guys that’ve been around the NFL in that kind of role, and there’s been a consistency of that,” Orlovsky said. “That’s no mistake that those guys took those jumps. And now we have Mac Jones, and think about this: Mac Jones gets Matt Patricia, who is a, I guess, failed defensive mind in the NFL, and he gets Joe Judge who is a failed special teams mind. That is massive, a massive issue to me.”
Patricia was hired in 2021 as the Patriots’ senior football advisor, and Judge was hired February 8 as offensive assistant.
The Patriots Have Done This Before
Though New England is known for ambiguous job titles, it appears Patricia and Judge will be doing much of the heavy lifting.
On March 28, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said that Patricia had been elevated to part of the offensive staff without specifying his role.
“I’m not big on titles,” Belichick told reporters on March 28. “We have jobs to do. We’ll do the jobs.”
Both Patricia and Brian Flores had operated as de facto defensive coordinators of the Patriots even though they never received the title. The same could be said for last season with Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo. Likewise, McDaniels and Bill O’Brien started out without the official title of offensive coordinator.
Matt Patricia and Joe Judge Aren’t Doing It all
In addition to Patricia and Judge, Nick Caley will enter his third year as tight end and fullback coach. And though Belichick, who has more wins in NFL history than all but two coaches, typically doesn’t have his fingerprints all over the offense, he could be more involved in play-calling in 2022.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote on March 6 that “there’s sort of an open belief leaguewide” that Belichick “could call the plays or, at the very least, have more involvement in the offense.”
Despite Orlovsky’s stated concern about Jones’ development, Jones has been spotted putting in work this offseason, throwing to teammates in Florida.
He is coming off an impressive rookie season in which he threw for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Still, it remains to be seen whether he will take that crucial leap in his second NFL season without consistency at offensive coordinator.