When New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick made the head-scratching decision to have longtime defensive coach Matt Patricia call offensive plays and longtime special teams coach Joe Judge coach the quarterback for the 2022 season, he said he would take the blame.
It appears a couple members of the Patriots’ organization are doing just that.
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Multiple anonymous sources within the Patriots’ organization placed blame on Belichick for his decision to replace longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels with Patricia and Judge, according to Andrew Callahan and Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald.
“It’s always been about winning and doing what’s best for the team. I really believe [Belichick] when he says that,” a source within the Patriots’ organization told the Herald. “I just think he really didn’t understand how hard it was going to be.”
“I love coach (Belichick), but he f—ed us,” another source from the organization said.
Patriots fans you’re gonna wanna watch this—and listen to this. #nfllive@pats pic.twitter.com/dsutycJC4W
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) November 16, 2022
The Patriots’ offense struggled mightily in the 2022 season. They ranked 26th in total offense, 27th in third-down conversions and dead last in red zone efficiency a year after ranking in the top-10 in many offensive stats under McDaniels while having much of the same personnel on that side of the ball.
With the coaching change came a new offensive system. New England moved away from its previous offensive style, which featured a fullback and more 12 personnel along with more play-action passes, in favor of a Sean McVay/Kyle Shanahan-like offensive system, which featured more zone runs.
In addition, the playbook the Patriots’ offensive coaching staff gave their players in 2022 was roughly half the size of the playbook they got in previous seasons as they were looking to run more quick, simple plays. It didn’t work, as New England scored just 18.1 points per game.
A source reportedly told the Boston Herald that the offense was “disheveled” and the coaches “were always scrambling to get things done.”
Many players reportedly raised questions about the change of the offensive systems during training camp, when they had several lackluster practices.
“A lot of guys would ask, ‘Well, what’s going to happen if [the defense] does this?’ And you would see they hadn’t really accounted for that yet,” a source the Herald. “And they’d say, ‘We’ll get to that when we get to that.’ That type of attitude got us in trouble.”
Two days prior to the Patriots’ regular-season opener, Belichick said Patricia and Judge “are good coaches,” per Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe, but that “ultimately, it’s my responsibility, like it always is. So if it doesn’t go well, blame me.”
Less than a week after the season ended, the Patriots made an unprecedented announcement that they were interviewing offensive coordinator candidates following the 2022 disaster. That search ended earlier this week when they re-hired Bill O’Brien as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Patriots hire Bill O'Brien as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach: https://t.co/D5StcYwStQ
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 26, 2023
“I am looking forward to working with Bill again,” Belichick said in a statement. “He is an outstanding coach and an asset to our staff.”