FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Thoughts and quick notes on the New England Patriots and the NFL:
1. The form of Patricia: The first domino in Bill Belichick’s plans to shape his offensive coaching staff after the departure of coordinator Josh McDaniels fell last week with the hiring of Joe Judge.
Could a second Domino include senior football adviser Matt Patricia?
Few, if any, really know what Belichick is thinking. But the possibility of Patricia joining the offensive staff in some capacity has come up in conversations with smart NFL personnel projecting Belichick’s next move, and the thinking goes like this:
With the Patriots set to retain the core of their existing defensive staff, but losing elite institutional offensive intelligence/knowledge without McDaniels and others, Belichick might see a combination of Patricia and Judge as his best option for lead the offensive transition.
Public perception of Patricia and Judge may not be high after their stints as head coaches of the Lions and Giants, respectively, but Belichick’s respect for their coaching acumen as assistants, the way they fit into the culture of the Patriots and his confidence in them is good. documented.
Such an approach, if Belichick ultimately heads in that direction, would be risky.
Patricia’s last extended time on offense was in 2004-05 when he was an offensive assistant/O line assistant coach in New England. And Judge only has one year as an offensive assistant on his resume, in 2019 as the Patriots’ wide receivers coach. Neither has called offensive plays in the NFL.
Meanwhile, quarterback Mac Jones is entering his second season, which Belichick often cites as the year – for all players – in which the biggest leap was made.
Belichick isn’t one to rush into decisions or assign job titles before he has to. But with the coaches having to return to the office after a few weeks off, it makes sense to clarify Patricia’s role in 2022 given the turnover. In addition to McDaniels, the Patriots are losing receivers coach Mick Lombardi, offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo and quality control/quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree — not to mention the coach’s slated retirement running backs Ivan Fears.
When Patricia returned to the team last year, her office was part of the staff and her work included everything from contracts to football’s X’s and O’s. One option is to keep him there and bring him into the transition after the departure of director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, who was hired as general manager of the Raiders.
However, the move to a more pure attacking coaching role is a scenario worth watching – especially with so many attacking coaches moving on.
2. Wolf-Groh Combo: Belichick didn’t attend the Senior Bowl last week, and I’m told it was scouting consultant Eliot Wolf and national scout Matt Groh leading the Patriots contingent, which also included a group of young scouts . Belichick has decisions to make about the structure of the personnel department following Ziegler’s departure, and the early stages of the Senior Bowl had the Wolf-Groh combination in mind.
3. The Trojan era: The departure of Lombardi, who handled the team’s red-zone plans last offseason, opens the door for Troy Brown to move from assistant receivers coach to a full-time position. With the NFL’s minority hiring in the spotlight, Brown is a potential future coordinator-type candidate in that pipeline. As for how the Patriots could replace Bricillo, his assistant Billy Yates could move up to the top of the offensive line. Yates has a connection to Patricia having coached under him in Detroit, so if Patricia takes on more of an offensive coaching role in 2022, that connection could be seen as a positive.
4. Taking Mayo: Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo has been insightful during his Super Bowl media rounds, particularly when it comes to his take on the NFL Minority Hiring and his affinity for coach in new england. As for the Patriots’ defense, he pointed out that the unit finished third in the NFL in fewest points allowed and seventh in yards allowed. These are facts, but the context also seems important. What did that defense look like when it mattered most — in the season finale against the Dolphins and twice against the high-powered Bills? While the overall standings can’t be disputed, it seems more needs to be focused on why the unit slipped at the end of the year.
5. Pay for coaches: When Patricia was hired as Lions head coach in 2018, he signed a five-year contract. When Judge was hired as the Giants’ head coach in 2020, he also signed a five-year contract. With both coaches now back on the Patriots staff and still collecting paychecks from their head coaching contracts, it takes stress off the New England coaching payroll. While I don’t see that as Belichick’s primary motivation, it’s fair to call it an added bonus. In a sense, just as Belichick is looking for value in the free agent market, he has done the same with his staff.
6. Mac’s Pro Bowl Personality: Did anyone have more fun at last Sunday’s Pro Bowl than Jones? After watching this entertaining segment with mic, it’s a definite no. And while the game itself isn’t necessarily one to watch, it could have a significant impact for Jones and the Patriots down the line, as the best players from across the NFL have had a chance to see what it’s up to. acted … and seemed enjoy the experience.
7. Draft thoughts: There’s a long way to go before the April 28-30 NFL Draft, but early in the process of figuring out which prospects might suit the Patriots at No. 21, the possible receiver options were intriguing to consider. Specifically, how does Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams’ torn ACL affect his stock, and create a scenario where he could slip and the Patriots could potentially retire their version of Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase with Jones-Williams – two players from the same program as first-round picks in consecutive years.
8. Super prediction: Rams 31, Bengals 23. Similar to last year, when there was belief the Buccaneers would win due to the Chiefs’ shortcomings on the offensive line, the Rams have that advantage this time around. And bringing him closer to home, where the Patriots offensive line provides a solid foundation to build on, I consider re-signing center/guard Ted Karras a sneaky but high priority.
9. Age-old history: Zac Taylor (38) and Sean McVay (36) together turn 74, making the Bengals-Rams Super Bowl the youngest head coaching game ever and the youngest ever game in postseason since the 1936 NFL championship (Ray Flaherty and Curly Lambeau — 71). The view is different here in New England, where Belichick turns 70 in April and is set to enter his 23rd season as head coach. It extends the NFL’s longest head coaching tenure and sets the stage for what the Patriots hope will be a theme in 2022 — which older, wiser championships produce.
10a. Did you know, part I: The Patriots holding the Rams just three points in Super Bowl LIII mark Los Angeles’ lowest scoring in McVay’s five seasons as head coach (90 games).
10b. Did you know, part II: The Rams (one) and Bengals (zero) have just one combined Super Bowl victory, marking the first time since the Patriots faced the Panthers in XXXVIII that Super Bowl participants have entered with one or none combined title.