Former staffer says Patriots “don’t have an offense”

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - NOVEMBER 24: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots looks on prior to a game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - NOVEMBER 24: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots looks on prior to a game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

The Patriots’ offense started the season as the main topic of discussion amongst those in New England. Unfortunately, due to their poor performance through 13 weeks of the regular season, the offense remains the hottest topic for those same reasons.

The last two weeks have proven the extreme highs and deep lows of what the team is capable of. Although this season’s team has heavily relied on the outstanding performance of the defense, the week 12 game against the Minnesota Vikings was a performance led by Mac Jones and his offensive counterparts.

Facing one of the best teams in not just the NFC but in the NFL, the Patriots offense came alive and appeared to have their best showing of the season. Jones reverted to rookie form, completing 28 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns while consistently moving down the field with big plays, similar to how the offense performed during the 2021 season.

Matt Patricia was (mostly) praised for his play-calling against one of the better teams in the league, regardless of losing by just one score. But that praise was short-lived when just a week later, the Patriots suffered a devastating home loss to the Buffalo Bills; a game where the offense looked utterly inadequate and unprepared.

Many concerns before the season have begun to resurface, with many calling for Patricia’s removal from his play-calling duties. Although New England remains in the hunt for a wild card position in the playoffs, they’re not performing like a team that can compete against tougher opponents.

With so much discussion surrounding the status of the offense, particularly after Jones and others revealed their frustrations since their latest loss, many opinions have been flying around the media over the past week. The latest to join the conversation is former Patriots’ staffer Michael Lombardi, who ripped into the offense and the coaches after another abysmal performance.

The former NFL executive, who spent two years in New England as the assistant to the coaching staff, made some strong statements during his show On The Lombardi Line about what he’s seen, or not seen, from the offense throughout the 2022 season.

"“To me, when I watch the Patriots, they don’t have an offense. They just run a bunch of plays.”"

Lombardi’s bold statement speaks volumes considering his respect and admiration for Belichick. Not many voices in the media have a previous working relationship with the coach or an inside look into the inner workings of the Patriots’ organization, making his assessment much more damning than if coming from someone else.

When detailing the struggles the offense has displayed this season, Lombardi mentioned the vast differences between last year’s most successful aspects, becoming this season’s most troublesome parts that they seem incapable of overcoming.

"“They were a top-10 offense last year. Their offensive line has not been as good this year, there’s no denying that. Their passing game, with even better players in their passing game, with DeVante Parker and Thornton back, they haven’t [been as good]. It’s a concern. They haven’t been able to close the gap…they can’t consistently move the ball.They have players that can get down the field. They don’t have big-strike ability. They don’t. You can blame it on Mac Jones. You can blame it on the offensive line…it’s just not there. All you know is last year they were a top-10 offense. This year, they’re not.”"

On paper, more talent is rostered than last season, which would suggest a more formidable offense overall. But there’s a clear discrepancy with all signs pointing to the change at offensive play-caller.

The relationship between Jones and McDaniels was clear from the start. The collaboration between the two in game planning and involving what Jones felt the most comfortable with was a constant talking point by both throughout the season.

Although Jones has remained complimentary of Patricia and the other coaches for what they’ve done this season, there is obvious tension and disconnect somewhere along the line. And because the biggest struggles appear to stem from the parts of the team Patricia is responsible for, it doesn’t seem unfair to send the blame his way for how the offense has looked.

However, one of the more significant issues may be Belichick’s stubbornness to make any change that may improve the offense this season. He made it clear during his weekly radio appearance that he would not be demoting Patricia or making drastic moves to alter the offense in any way. He doubled down on that when speaking to the media on Tuesday, stating, “the system we have in place, I feel good about.”

But at the same time, he didn’t shut down the idea of replacing Patricia or any other coaches during the offseason, a move that very clearly needs to be a priority as soon as the season ends. Whether that means bringing back a familiar face in Bill O’Brien or hiring a new coach to take over the offense remains unclear. But it seems like the only chance to get Jones and the offense back on track, especially after their incredibly successful showing last season.