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Too Soon? Patriots New Offensive Coaching Staff Already Under Fire

Despite having not played a single down, the New England Patriots approach to their offensive coaching is already being criticized.

Adorning the walls of the New England Patriots practice facility at Gillette Stadium is a plaque imploring readers to “Ignore the Noise.”

Patriots’ Coaches Matt Patricia (left), Bill Belichick
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, offensive assistant Joe Judge
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For a franchise which has had its share of success and controversy, the statement serves as a reminder to focus on the task at hand, without the distraction of media intervention. As such, it is probably the best advice which can be given to a player who puts on its uniform.

The same can be said for coaches, as well.

Though head coach Bill Belichick has both seen and done it all on a football field, his methods, strategies and even his sanity continue to be questioned on a daily basis. Belichick has become a master at diffusing the winds of controversy. His assistants, however, may not be.

Especially when that criticism is coming from within their own ranks.

According to a recent report from Boston Sports Journal (BSJ), sources close to the Patriots are not exactly thrilled about the direction of the team’s offense in the early stages of 2022. In fact, some of that feedback is coming directly from the players themselves.

“I’ve heard from people in the last couple days about what’s going on with the offensive coaching staff,” said BSJ’s Greg Bedard during his latest podcast episode. “And the initial reports I’m getting back are not good at all. And that includes what they’re hearing from the players internally. It’s not going in a good direction.”

Since the departure of former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coaching staff has been placed under the microscope. The examination has only intensified with the news that former Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia and former New York Giants head Joe Judge [both former Pats assistants as well] are the frontrunners to be the primary offensive play caller in 2022.

The suggestion of both Judge and Patricia having a hand in formulating New England’s offense may raise an eyebrow (and perhaps the blood pressure) of several Patriots fans, as well as the media. After all, neither Patricia nor Judge is known as a formidable offensive coach. With Patricia being best known for his contributions on defense, and Judge having his best days as a special teams coordinator, the Pats brain trust looks to be placing its faith in two inexperienced commodities.

But wait…there’s more…

When meeting with the media for the first time in the offseason, members of the Pats coaching staff [including Patricia and Judge] were reluctant to reveal their job titles for the upcoming season…a point which apparently did not sit well with several members of the media. Judge, particularly, was hammered for his explanations of the Pats potential identity on offense. According to Bedard, his approach is causing concern among former members of the Foxboro fold.

“People who were with the Patriots, have Patriots ties, heard about Joe Judge’s press conference, went and watched it,” Bedard said. “And they’re all texting me, saying like, ‘What the eff is (Judge) talking about? Like, this is all wasted energy.”

Therefore, the only logical reaction to such Belichickian audacity — that which ignores the conventional train of thought for football operations — can be best summarized in the immortal words of Dr. [and Ghostbuster] Peter Venkman:

Human sacrifice…dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!

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Right?

Well, before joining the legion in storming the Foxboro castle, keep the following in mind.

Despite their less-than-stellar resumes as head coaches, it is important to remember that both Patricia and Judge held the positions for multiple seasons. It is also not either coach’s first rodeo when it comes to coaching on the offensive side of the ball.

Judge was a former collegiate quarterback for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, allowing him to bring first-hand coaching insight in all areas of the offense. His previous time in New England also arms him with a strong knowledge of the system. As a result, Judge’s experience should lend some stability to a young, potentially productive offense led by Mac Jones, the team’s soon-to-be second-year quarterback.

A coaching line item also exists on Judge’s resume. He coached the Patriots wide receivers in 2019, a job for which he received mixed reviews from the media. Once again, anonymous sources indicated that Judge did not necessarily have the confidence of the players on his depth chart. However, the Pats top player at the position during that season had no problem going on the record on his feelings for his positional coach. Former Pats wideout Julian Edelman praised Judge that season for being “a very passionate guy,”

“He works very hard at his craft. It’s exciting to have him. He’s been doing a good job. I’m excited to have him” Edelman said.

Bill Belichick
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patricia judge

Like Judge, Patricia also has offensive experience to his credit. He 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 — working closely with former Pats offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. When asked about his relationship with the legendary Patriots assistant, Patricia expressed his appreciation for the lessons he learned from Scarnecchia. He also served a reminder that Scarnecchia is merely a phone call away, should he require his wisdom and counsel.

“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.”

With OTA set to begin in Foxboro on Monday, many a sharp eye will be focused on Patriots players and coaches. Each drop or miscue will be emphasized, and in some cases, sensationalized. Still, it should be noted that a meaningful snap has yet to be taken in 2022.

Should the Patriots indeed be ‘standing pat’ when it comes to their 2022 offensive coaching staff, it is important to remember that a different look does not necessarily spell disaster. 

The final verdict of this coaching staff will not be reached as the result of back-channel offerings regarding their reputation. Rather, it will be based on the quality of the team’s play on the field.

New England has serious problems to solve on the offensive side of the ball.

Rest assured, they do have serious people to solve them