The Patriots’ offense has been under a microscope ever since reports surfaced during training camp of a disconnect between quarterback Mac Jones and some of the team’s receivers.
While reporters pressed Bill Belichick on who would call offensive plays, the head coach largely sidestepped the question leading up to Week 1.
Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, both back on the Patriots’ staff for a second stint after head coaching gigs, were tasked with offensive responsibilities in training camp. NFL Network reported on the eve of the season opener that Patricia would be handling offensive play-calling.
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The news confused fans for a few reasons, but one stood out above the rest: Patricia was a defensive coordinator before landing the Lions’ head coaching job.
Here’s what you need to know about how Patricia ended up on the other side of the ball for a playoff contender.
Why is Matt Patricia calling plays for the Patriots?
Patricia’s title is senior football advisor, rather than offensive coordinator, but he is the de facto coordinator after longtime Belichick confidant Josh McDaniels left to become head coach of the Raiders.
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While Patricia made his name as a defensive coach in Foxborough, he does have some offensive experience. He started out as an offensive assistant and was elevated to assistant offensive line coach in his second season with the Patriots. Before joining New England, Patricia was an offensive assistant at Syracuse.
Patricia also doesn’t have as much control over the offense as McDaniels did, according to NFL Network. Ian Rapoport reported in September that Belichick has “heavy influence” over the offense.
When Belichick was asked before the season about the offensive coordinator role, he said, “We’re not really big on titles and all that.”
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Judge, who was considered with Patricia for offensive play-caller, doesn’t have much of an offensive background. Before becoming head coach of the Giants, he spent more than a decade as a special teams coach between Alabama and the Patriots.
Results under Patricia have been mixed. The Patriots entered Week 14 ranked 19th in the NFL in points per game and 24th in yards per game.
Cameras caught Jones complaining during a Thursday night loss to the Bills in Week 13, indicating discontent with Patricia might go beyond just the fans.
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If New England falls short of the playoffs, Belichick’s decision to let Patricia command the offense will continue to be questioned heavily.