Since returning to the New England Patriots in 2021, Matt Patricia’s position with the team has been cloaked in ambiguity. Officially listed as a ‘senior football advisor,’ Patricia has served the team in a variety of specialized roles.
Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia
Matt Patricia, Joe Judge
However, with the 2022 NFL season fast approaching, Patricia once again finds himself the subject of much attention. The longtime Pats assistant, and former Detroit Lions head coach is expected to take on a significant role on the team’s offensive coaching staff for the upcoming year — a fact that has raised more than a few eyebrows throughout Patriots fandom.
Still, the 47-year old is ready for the challenges which lay ahead.
Speaking with members of the New England media via video conference on Monday, Patricia carefully confirmed that his coaching wisdom and counsel will be provided on offense in 2022.
“I’ve been with the offensive players, specifically spending time with the guys up front,” Patricia said. “I came here a long time ago, and I came in as an offensive line coach.”
Perhaps best recognized for his time as the Pats defensive coordinator, or possibly for his Super Bowl weekend airport attire, Patricia does have some experience on the offensive side of the ball. In fact, the offensive line is where his football journey began. Patricia played his collegiate football at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where he was a four-year letterman as a center and guard with the Engineers 1992-95.
Patricia began his coaching career with the Patriots as an offensive coaching assistant under Belichick in 2004, the same year the team won its third championship in Super Bowl XXXIX. In 2005, upon the departure of assistant offensive line/tight ends coach Jeff Davidson, Patricia was reassigned as the Patriots' assistant offensive line coach.
It should also be noted that Patricia also spent three seasons as the Lions’ head coach. While questioning his job performance is fair, Patricia required familiarity with all aspects of his offense as well as his defense as the final say in Detroit's on-field operations.
While he may not be an offensive specialist, Patricia is not exactly the novice being portrayed in the local and national media narrative. After all, a football coach should always be prepared to teach the fundamentals of all aspects of the game.
“One of the things I love about coaching is teaching. I love teaching the game,” Patricia said. “I think that when you teach and you become a coach, for us, and especially here — and Coach [Belichick] does a great job of this — you learn about all facets of the game. You learn about offense and defense and positions and fundamentals and techniques and you put yourself in a situation where really you're comfortable coaching anybody on the field at any time. Whatever side of the ball it is.”
For Patricia, that side of the ball will indeed be on offense, specifically along the offensive line. In the wake of the departure of former line coach Carmen Bricillo [who will be joining Josh McDaniels with the Las Vegas Raiders], the ex-Pats defensive coordinator looks to be the next man up. Though he has yet to officially be named in that capacity, Patricia should assume the primary duties, with an assist from colleague Billy Yates.
Yates spent his first season with the Patriots in 2021 as an assistant offensive line coach. However, for the previous three seasons, Yates was an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions, including the 2020 season as the team's assistant offensive line coach. He was also a part of the William Clay Ford Minority Coaching Assistantship for the 2018-19 seasons, helping the Lions’ defensive side of the ball under Patricia.
Dante Scarnecchia, Bill Belichick
Joe Judge, Bill Belichick
While Patricia’s coaching acumen is well-supported by a host of experienced minds, he is comforted by the knowledge that his mentor and legendary Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is merely a phone call away, should he need additional advice.
“Scar is one of those coaches you always keep on speed dial,” Patricia said with a smile. “He’s one of the greatest, bottom line. I don’t like to bother him but I appreciate him a lot.”
Ultimately, Patricia, along with fellow Pats offensive assistants Joe Judge and Nick Caley will be tasked with play calling duties in 2022. Though play calling has never been his strong suit, Patricia should benefit greatly from some talented coaches on the Pats’ staff. He is also confident in his abilities to competently complete the task at hand.
“Yeah. Sure,” Patricia replied when asked if he would feel comfortable calling offensive plays in the upcoming season. “Right now, I'm focused on whatever we're doing on the field that I've got that handled."
In true Patriots fashion, Matt Patricia is doing his job.
Some things never change.