The New England Patriots‘ offseason was supposed to center on finding ways to improve the roster (potential cuts, signings, etc.) after they were flatlined by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately, though, most of the discourse surrounding the Pats in recent weeks has fixated on the coaching staff, or what’s left of it anyway.
To make a long story short, longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels taking the Raiders’ head coaching job and bringing four New England offensive assistants with him has Bill Belichick scrambling to find replacements.
As a result, there have been rumors hinting that Joe Judge and senior football advisor Matt Patricia could assume greater responsibilities on offense. Like we said, Belichick is short on options.
So much so, in fact, that Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus is hearing that Patricia and Belichick (!) could have bigger roles on offense, which, in turn, would give Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo more of a voice on the defensive side of the ball.
The latest buzz suggests Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo could be running the Patriots’ defense in 2022.
This update could be brutal news for the Patriots’ defense, which was arguably the best in the league for the first two-plus months before it absolutely collapsed down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.
The reason for that? Well, Belichick reportedly pulled the defensive strings early on before he stopped midseason and deferred responsibility to his son Steve, the outside linebackers coach, and Mayo, the inside LBs coach.
Per Evan Lazar of CLNS Media, the Belichick-Mayo duo had a peculiar dynamic, with the former handling mid-week presentations, game-planning and in-game substitution packages, while the latter, as it turns out, was calling plays.
That report would suggest that Mayo was the de facto defensive coordinator, whereas Belichick, for one reason or another, had the final say of what plays to run.
It’s unclear when Belichick (the head coach) took a back seat on defense, but it’s seems noteworthy that the Patriots defense went from allowing fewer than 15 points per game during their seven-game win streak to allowing 30 points over the final five games, including the playoff loss to Buffalo.
Belichick clearly noticed the unit was faltering, so why didn’t he step in and offer a solution? Did he think it was too late to make another switch after he gave the defensive keys to his son and former two-time Pro Bowler?
Whatever the case, short of hiring an out-of-house defensive coordinator, it sounds like Belichick has no other choice but to let the defense sink or swim with Steve and Mayo steering the ship. After all, the soon-to-be 70-year-old already has enough on his plate between the personnel department, special teams and now — thanks to McDaniels — the offense.