The New England Patriots were very quiet this offseason after going on a spending bonanza in 2021 but still suffered a significant loss in the form of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. After years of rumors, McDaniels was finally hired away to become head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. The Pats, as they are wont to do, didn't chase after somebody outside the building to replace the longtime OC. Instead, they promoted from within, and brought back two failed Bill Belichick disciples by the names of Joe Judge and Matt Patricia.
However, neither of the two, nor any other coach in the entire organization, was named offensive coordinator. Belichick has repeatedly been asked about that in the handful of media appearances he's had since the McDaniels departure and he's deflected at every turn. Various insider reports and rumors have painted a picture suggesting the offensive coordinator duties will be shared by several coaches, much like how Belichick decided to go last year without an official defensive coordinator.
That could work in theory. But it also seems like a terrible idea! Maybe you'd get away with a similar setup if the starting quarterback was a longtime vet who knew the system like the back of his hand. Mac Jones is ... not that.
Voluntary OTAs began Monday in New England, which meant Belichick was back in front of the camera. And he was, again, remarkably flippant about not having a head honcho in the offensive meetings.
"We'll get to it when we get to it," he says about not having an offensive coordinator. That's crazy!
Here is where I'll acknowledge the caveats of the situation. First and foremost, this is the Patriots, longtime kings of useless cloak-and-dagger games. Belichick hates the concept of media members asking about internal operations and thus will foil any attempt to glean legitimate information at every turn if he can help it, even if that information is utterly meaningless and provides no competitive edge to anybody. It's obviously a principle thing for him. So, however the Pats are doing it, we aren't going to hear from Belichick when it comes to the specifics. And, obviously, In Bill We Trust, doubt the greatest coach of all time at your own risk, yada, yada, yada.
With all that acknowledged, his lackadaisical attitude about not naming an offensive coordinator seems nuts. An offensive coordinator is kind of important, isn't it? In theory the duties usually assigned to an OC can be performed by several people instead of just one. But, in theory, so can the duties of a head coach. Yet you don't see anybody trying to run an NFL team by committee.
An offensive coordinator is important not only because he would call the plays on Sunday. An OC defines the entire philosophy of the unit, the goals that every player on that side of the ball is working on achieving. With the Patriots' current setup, it seems like Belichick is the one setting those goals. Which doesn't seem like an awful idea, but he presumably will have far more to do than ensuring those goals are met as the head coach of the whole team, which leaves it to ... Judge and Patricia?
It just seems strange. It's weird New England won't officially name an offensive coordinator and it's weird that Belichick is getting to the point where he's flippant about it instead of dipping into his standard rolodex of non-answers. Maybe it's much ado about nothing from people like me who don't work for the Patriots. But then again, a report emerged late last week that the veterans on the team were "really worried" with the direction this was going.
So maybe all these concerns aren't unfounded after all. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.