One of the running storylines throughout the Patriots’ 2022 season was the frayed relationship between quarterback Mac Jones and then-offensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who had been uncomfortably thrust into the job at the behest of head coach Bill Belichick. Patricia’s simplified offense was never much of a fit for Jones, who regressed after earning a spot in the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
By December of last season, there was Jones, caught on camera more than once dropping F-bombs in Patricia’s direction.
It’s a new year, and the Patriots have a new offensive coordinator—that is to say, they’ve brought back old offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. Patricia is now the “senior defensive assistant” with the Eagles, the Patriots’ Week 1 foe. Patricia will be back on the sidelines at Gillette Stadium, but presumably won’t face Jones’ wrath again.
“Coach Patricia is a really smart guy and I have a lot of respect him,” Jones said on WEEI radio in Boston this week. “Really enjoyed, actually, working with him. We put in a lot of hours together. … Definitely shot him a text when he ended up (in Philadelphia). I wish him nothing but the best. I really do respect him and I had a lot of good times with him too.”
Patricia Has Struggled Coaching Outside New England
Indeed, Patricia is known as an especially smart guy in NFL circles, even if his recent history in the league has gone sideways. When he was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator for six seasons from 2012-17, New England was a Top 10 scoring defense in each of his seasons, including best in the league in 2016.But then Patricia went to Detroit as the head coach and his Lions were routinely pummeled, finishing 13-29-1 in his two-and-a-half seasons.
Patricia came back to the Patriots as a “senior advisor” in 2021.
O’Brien also said he will be happy to see Patricia again this week, even if it means that the Eagles have some insider knowledge of New England’s personnel.
“Matty is a great football coach,” O’Brien said. “He has a great history in this league, a winning history. A really good football mind. I learned a lot from [him]… we have a lot of respect for Matt. He’s a great football coach, a good friend. Looking forward to seeing him on Sunday.”
Mac Jones Facing Pressure in Year 3
As for Jones, he is entering Year 3 under a fair amount of pressure after last season’s struggles. There is no doubt that Jones has talent, but what remains unknown is whether last year’s slip was because of the offense or because Jones overachieved in Year 1. He has started 31 games and the Patriots have gone 16-15 in those games. He threw for 3,801 yards as a rookie, with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, but the numbers fell to 2,997 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last year.
Jones was out with an ankle injury for three games in that stretch.
He does know that Patricia’s knowledge of him and his teammates adds a layer to the difficulties of facing a loaded Eagles defense.
“I think it is a great challenge,” Jones said. “As a competitor you want to go out there and not think too much and just play fast. Play my game. Yeah, he’s a great coach who has coached in a lot of big games and stuff like that. They got a great defense with a lot of great players so you’ve got to respect the other side, and we do.”