FOXBORO — Since the departure of former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the identity of the New England Patriots offensive play-caller for 2022 has been the subject of much speculation.
Pats offensive assistant coaches Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, as well as tight ends coach Nick Caley have all been rumored to be in contention for accepting the duties for the upcoming season.
However, per a recent report from The Athletic, an “early favorite” seems to be separating himself from the pack.
Says the report:
“As Belichick and his staff ironed out their practice plans each day, the coaches predetermined who would lead each period, according to sources. It had been speculated — with Patricia taking charge of the run-based periods and Judge in control of the pass-based periods — there might be a run-game coordinator and pass-game coordinator this season. However, that hasn’t been the case so far, according to a source."
While Judge has worked closely with New England’s quarterbacks, Patricia has reportedly taken a more comprehensive role over the team’s offense throughout their offseason workout program. As a result, he has essentially become the front-runner for the job — though no official announcement has been made.
“Belichick has not yet decided who will call the plays during the season, but it’s trending in Patricia’s direction,” according to The Athletic. "Patricia and Judge are each preparing for the possibility of calling plays, but Patricia’s workload this spring has suggested he’s the early favorite to handle that responsibility.”
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 game, 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 quite the novice, which he is being portrayed by both the local and national media narrative. His previous experience as a head coach, as well as a defensive coordinator, gives him unique insight 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 told reporters in May. “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.”
Ultimately, Patricia, along with his fellow assistants will face a tough task in filling McDaniels’ shoes. 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."
The Patriots are set to begin their three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday at Gillette Stadium with the program concluding Thursday.