There will be plenty on Belichick’s plate


For those who believe Bill Belichick is on the verge of quitting — and in all honesty, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of people in that camp — the evidence would strongly suggest otherwise. Rather than stepping back and taking on fewer responsibilities as he approaches 70, Belichick looks set to add more to his already heaping plate.

At least that’s how things look after the Patriots announced the return of Joe Judge as an offensive assistant while losing two other coaches on the offensive side of the ball. Over the weekend, news spread that wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi was heading to Las Vegas as the Raiders’ offensive coordinator while offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo was also joining the staff. Josh McDaniels in the same position.

The moves came after assistant quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree had already agreed to follow McDaniels into the desert and the inevitable retirement of longtime running backs coach Ivan Fears. In total, the Patriots will lose five coaches on the offensive side of the ball and have only added Judge to the mix so far. And Judge has only worked one season with wide receivers on his resume, so his offensive experience is pretty limited.

So, who are the Patriots turning to? A few options remain, one of which could include returning Matt Patricia to a full-time coaching role and having him work on offense, which he did in 2004-05 working with the offensive line. . But even if it does, there will be a void and Belichick himself may have to fill it.

It’s possible Belichick intends to spend more time working with Mac Jones and the offense in 2022 after spending the past two seasons focusing more on defense, with the experienced McDaniels taking care of things as as offensive coordinator. With no obvious option to replace McDaniels, the coach could simply decide to take matters into his own hands and orchestrate the attack – or at least take a more active role in it.

It’s not an ideal situation for a manager who has excelled in overseeing the whole operation during his 22 years in charge of Foxborough. One of his greatest strengths, one that sets him apart from most of his peers, is his ability to oversee and lead the entire team. He was able to move skillfully between different areas of the team both as a teacher and a leader, demonstrating his ability to do so effectively and efficiently.

The concern if Belichick is forced to focus on offense would be the possibility of the coach not being able to oversee as many elements of the entire squad as he has in the past. As it stands, the team doesn’t have a coach with NFL experience, which seems less than ideal for a team with a quarterback entering a very important second season in its league. development.

Belichick understands that, and it may be one of the reasons he decides to spend more time with Jones in 2022.

In a perfect world, the Patriots could have promoted one of the existing coaches to offensive coordinator and added experience with Judge and Patricia for more guidance. Or the Patriots could have lured Bill O’Brien away from Alabama for a comeback commitment.

But Belichick obviously didn’t feel like Lombardi or tight ends coach Nick Caley – the two longest-serving assistants – were ready for such a promotion and eventually Lombardi decided to leave for the chance to lead the attack elsewhere. And O’Brien is staying in Tuscaloosa to direct Nick Saban.

As for other staff openings, Billy Yates served as Bricillo’s assistant in 2021 and could step into the lead role. Cole Popovich, who worked with Bricillo in 2020 before quitting the staff before last season because he wasn’t vaccinated, took the offensive line job at Troy last month and so would appear to be out of the picture. Vinnie Sunseri worked with running backs alongside Fears a year ago and could also be in line for more responsibility. And Troy Brown would be an obvious candidate to succeed Lombardi as wide receivers coach after helping him out last season.

But there’s no obvious solution to the vacant offensive coordinator position, and it looks like Belichick, soon to be 70, will be busier than ever in 2022.


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