The conversation regarding the Patriots’ offensive play-caller continued on Friday, as Bill Belichick spoke to Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe.
Speculation has swirled throughout the offseason and preseason regarding who will be the official replacement of Josh McDaniels. Because Belichick is yet to give an official title to either Matt Patricia or Joe Judge, questions have continued to arise with the regular season just around the corner.
Watching the team in their preseason practices and games, both Patricia and Judge were shown to be calling offensive plays. By the last game against the Raiders, it appeared Patricia would be taking on the play-calling duties on top of coaching the offensive line.
Their troublesome performances throughout August fueled concern about Belichick’s decision to give major roles to both coaches. Those concerns grew even more once Patricia appeared to have won the job. With only two years of his 18-year career spent with the offense, most fear he is not properly equipped to follow in McDaniels’ shoes.
When Belichick sat down with Dan Shaughnessy this week, the coach would defend his decision. He reiterated the number of previous coaches the Patriots have hired that also didn’t have much experience in their positions before joining the staff.
"“I don’t see it any differently than it was in the last 22 years. Look at our other offensive coordinators. We had Charlie [Weis]. Then Josh. He’d never called offensive plays. Billy O’Brien [who succeeded McDaniels] never called plays in the NFL. Josh came back. We’ve changed coaches in every area, multiple times. Defensively, Matt Patricia had never called plays. Then he won a couple of Super Bowls. Brian Flores [who succeeded Patricia] had never called plays. That worked out all right. Steve [Belichick] has been calling defenses.”"
Although he makes a fair and logical point, almost all of the former coaches he mentioned had much more experience on one side of the ball before their promotions than Patricia and Judge have currently.
But Belichick would address that point as well.
"“We have plenty of coaches that didn’t have previous experience and it’s worked out pretty well with most of them, but not all of them”"
It would seem fair to assume that Belichick knows what he’s doing. With so many in the media questioning his judgment, there are over twenty years of head coaching they can look back on. McDaniels’ departure was sure to happen at some point and because of his prolonged presence on the team, growing pains were sure to happen. That’s what the Patriots are currently going through.
Knowing how much scrutiny Patricia and Judge have faced since their returns to New England, Belichick emphasized that at the end of the day, whether the team succeeds or not, it all falls on his shoulders.
"“I think they’re both good coaches. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility, like it always is. So if it doesn’t go well, blame me”"
A few former players, Vince Wilfork and Julian Edelman have spoken out recently in favor of Belichick’s decisions and echoed the point of coaches switching roles is nothing new for the Patriots.
Edelman commented on the topic when appearing on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Friday, essentially repeating what his former coach has already stated.
"“Bill has a thing where when coaches are coming in, he’ll cross-train them. He’ll throw a defensive coach on the offensive side, make him learn the offensive side of the ball for three or four years, and then he brings them back to defense. So it’s not like Matty P has no information or no knowledge of the offense. This guy knows football.”"
Wilfork expressed his “full confidence” in his former defensive coach when appearing on NBC Sports Boston this week.
"” I have full confidence in Matt knowing what he’s doing on the offensive side of the ball because he’s proven himself there with me when I was a rookie and he was already over there.”"
How the Patriots will perform this season is yet to be seen. With a big matchup in week one in Miami, they’ll be tested right away. They certainly face an uphill battle this season but are in good hands with Belichick on the sidelines.