As if the conversation surrounding the Patriots’ offense and Matt Patricia’s coaching abilities, or lack thereof, hasn’t been discussed enough, a new rumor suggests that Patricia may actually not be the one drawing up offensive plays.
During an appearance on Felger & Mazz this week, Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard suggested that someone else may be more responsible for the offense’s struggles this season, particularly when it comes to game planning.
"“So, I was told this the other day, and I don’t know it 100% fact. It’s tough to get information out of there. But I heard that Evan Rothstein, who is Matt Patricia’s nerd from Detroit who has never coached a position, college or the NFL, is spearheading the pass-game concepts for the Patriots.”"
Given the absolute obliteration Patricia’s performance as the offensive play-caller has received since being named (but not officially) the offensive coordinator, it’s interesting to consider it may not actually be him drawing up the plays.
Bedard alleges that Evan Rothstein could be doing that part of the game planning, which isn’t much of a better scenario. Before taking a job with the Patriots, he spent nine years with the Lions in multiple roles, most of those years in various assistant roles. He worked with Patricia during his few years as the Lions’ head coach and is said to have worked primarily with the defense but also in all “facets of preparation for the team’s weekly components.” He joined New England in 2021 in the research and analysis/coaching role and is listed as an offensive assistant this season.
The newest rumor is a plot twist, considering how much Patricia has been blamed for the absolute mess the Patriots’ offense has been since camp. If it is accurate that Rothstein is the one drawing up the plays, it takes some of the heat off of Patricia and more fault thrown toward Bill Belichick.
The decision to have Patricia step into Josh McDaniels’ former role was a questionable one from the start, but to then have an inexperienced assistant game planning makes the entire situation even worse.
Bedard went into more detail about what he’s heard specifically about Rothstein while also criticizing the decision to give him such big responsibility with barely any experience working with an offense.
"“(This) is interesting because in Detroit, he was on the defensive side with Matt, which is Matt’s expertise. Even there’s a quote from the Detroit Free Press where Darrell Bevell, the offensive coordinator, is talking about, ‘(Rothstein) is our most knowledgeable in terms of our defense and what we’re really doing all the way across the board.’And now this is another example of, well, good coaches, smart minds. Even though the area where he has the most expertise is defense, all of a sudden this year it’s OK for him to switch over to offense and design the pass concepts for Matt Patricia, which have worked really, really well.”"
The sarcasm of his last statement says it all. Although many believe in the mantra “In Belichick, we trust,” this is not a decision that should be defended willingly. Patricia’s inexperience has shown consistently since being given the play-calling duties this spring. If Rothstein is truly the one drawing up plays, the vanilla, generic, uncreative plays make even more sense as to why they’re happening.
The biggest question stemming from this rumor is why?
Why did Belichick decide this season to drastically change the offense completely?
Why did he decide to hand over essential duties of the team to people with very little to no experience working with an offense?
Why has he been so insistent, especially of late, that no changes needed to be made in order to help make the offense more successful?
With only five weeks left in the season, it’s unlikely we’ll see any significant changes regarding the performance by the offense. Their remaining opponents will be incredibly tough and a true test of how they can bounce back from a handful of avoidable losses.
Because it’s clear that whatever the Patriots have tried to do this season has not worked, and the impact it’s had on Mac Jones has been undeniably unfair, the hope is some massive personnel changes will be made this offseason, starting with a new signal caller. And given this current rumor, a new play designer. It will be interesting to see how Belichick addresses it all and how willing he will be to make those changes. But if he wants to end his career on a successful note, those changes need to be done as soon as possible.