Every new year in the NFL, there are always overreactions to how teams perform in preseason games whether it be for good or not-so-good reasons. The Patriots were atop of the list this season as they appeared to struggle throughout both training camp and their three preseason games.
Concerns began to heighten as the weeks went on seeing New England’s players unable to work effectively, despite the amount of talent the team possesses. There have been several points of weakness discussed about the team overall, but it seems when trying to determine the root cause of the issues it’s leading all to the same common denominator; the coaching.
Although a lot of chatter had occurred throughout the past few years involving Josh McDaniels’ “need” to move on from the Patriots, it’s difficult to understand Bill Belichick’s decision behind who he chose to replace his longtime offensive coordinator.
Matt Patricia and Joe Judge both have prior experience working with Belichick and the Patriots, but were both fired from their head coaching positions this past season. The pair have little to no experience coaching the offensive side of the ball, leading to more questions as to why the two were chosen to take over in McDaniels’ departure.
The media has asked questions regarding the coaching in press conferences recently ad nauseam, with both players and coaches providing their usual generic answers. However, the tone in which some players have spoken has been vastly different than what they’ve shown before, allowing many to conclude as to how the team is feeling overall.
With concerns continuing to brew, Belichick spoke to the media on Monday but didn’t put those worries to bed. “Preseason is preseason,” Belichick said. “Preseason is about developing your team for the season and evaluating the players. I don’t think preseason games are a real big indicator of what the team is or isn’t, one way or the other. ”
While this is right on par with what is normally said by Belichick and he’s technically not wrong, his lack of concern about how the Patriots have performed sparked headlines after his press conference. But the coach’s words remained consistent with the attitudes of the coaching staff throughout the preseason, showing virtually no distress about the current state of the team.
When asked about the comfort level he sees within the offense as it stands, Belichick reiterated their philosophy of the first several weeks of the season being a continuation of the preseason.
” I don’t think you really know where your team is until you get to about midseason, you know, mid-October. Play five, six, seven games, match up against some different teams, see for real what your strengths and weaknesses are, and your opponents’ as well. You know, what it looks like on paper and what it is in preseason, and what it is in the regular season, I don’t think they’re all the same.”
For the sake of the Patriots’ 2022 season, hopefully, Belichick is right; teams are not the same in the preseason and regular season because the Patriots did not look good in August. It’s relieving and worrying to hear the confidence the coaches have for the team moving forward, regardless of what’s been seen thus far. And Belichick isn’t known as the “greatest head coach of all time” for no reason.
But can this Patriots team get it together? They face an incredibly difficult schedule this year, particularly in the first four weeks (at Miami, at Pittsburgh, vs Baltimore and at Green Bay). If those games are meant to be treated as an extension of the preseason, how will the results dictate the rest of their year?