Nobody thought putting Matt Patricia in charge of the New England Patriots offense was a good idea. Like, nobody. For nearly every decision made in sports you can find somebody who's willing to firmly grasp the contrarian mantle with two hands just for the sake of doing so. There was not a single pundit or analyst who did that with Patricia. After Bill Belichick refused to answer any direct questions and it became clear he was rolling with Patricia as offensive coordinator, the consensus reaction was that it was a bad idea that was almost certainly not going to work.
And everybody was right! Do you know how rare that is? For a decision to be universally panned and then for it to turn out exactly as badly as expected? And then for that to happen to a Belichick-coached team after two decades of making the right decision over and over again? It's nearly incomprehensible. It would be, if not for the fact that Patricia was so obviously unsuited for the job that why Belichick felt comfortable with him in the role will go down as one of football's great mysteries.
Patricia just looked the part of a guy who was way out of his depth. The offensive production would not have taken much of a hit if Tommy from Quincy was calling the plays instead of Patricia. It turns out when you put a guy who has coached only defense for 80 percent of his career in charge of the offense, bad things will happen!
It wasn't just that Patricia called dumb plays at bad times, like when he called a draw on 2nd-and-20 with five minutes left in a do-or-die game down 12 points yesterday. He failed to recognize the good plays in front of his face, too. Mac Jones went 9-for-9 on play-action passes on Sunday. Surely that means Patricia has been calling those all year, right? Wrong! Jones ranked 39th out of 40 quarterbacks in play-action pass percentage in 2022. Thirty-eight quarterbacks across 31 teams threw out of play-action more often than Mac Jones and there are not many quarterbacks who need the help of play-action more than Mac Jones. Patricia was unable or unwilling to adjust to that until the last game of the year.
There were plenty of smaller things too that might escape the eye of a casual viewer but make a huge difference. Dan Orlovsky spent hours on NFL Live in the middle of the season talking about how many of the Patriots' problems offensively came down to timing. Jones would be done with his dropback and no receiver would be ready to catch a pass. There were numerous instances in which two or more Patriots receivers would end up in the same five-yard square trying to catch a pass. Tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith literally injured each other because they ran into one another on dual crossing routes at one point this year!
Even the good things came with question marks. Jones' touchdown throw to Jakobi Meyers yesterday was an awesome play by both guys but why are the Patriots throwing a corner fade to the near side of the field? Nobody does that because there is zero room for error. With so little room to work with, Jones needs to throw a perfect ball to the perfect spot and Meyers needs to make a perfect catch.
The only real identifying quality of Patricia's offense was that everything needed to be perfect, all the time, for things to work. And that is just not possible. There are only a handful of quarterbacks who can make the right throw every time and Jones is not one of them. There is no perfect offensive line or receiving corps in the NFL. Mistakes will always be made. Good offensive coordinators figure out ways to take that into account when scheming up plays. Patricia did not. His "philosophy" if there ever was one is that there is no room for error.
It didn't even work that well. For every five bad plays there was one good play, and the process that led to that one good play was shaky at best. Patricia never put together a complete gameplan. There was not a single play that deserved appreciation. The only good thing that can be said of his regime was that he gave Rhamondre Stevenson the ball a lot, and even then he was forced to do so by Damien Harris' injury. When Harris came back for the last game of the year he got more carries than Stevenson and did far less with them.
Patricia just isn't cut out to be an offensive coordinator. He doesn't get the job. He doesn't grasp the fine details of why it's important to have the receiver line up two yards outside the hash instead of four. He doesn't get why calling three deep routes and a check-down is a bad idea when the QB is doing a three-step drop. He doesn't know how to find what works and then keep hammering it until the defense can stop it. He could not adjust for bad offensive line play or Jones' flaws.
Matt Patricia was not good at his job this year and does not deserve another shot.