NFL insider details possible roles for Patriots’ offensive coaches

With Josh McDaniels gone, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer suggests Bill Belichick and the Patriots could rely on Joe Judge to mentor Mac Jones.

Bill Belichick Matt Patricia Patriots
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and senior football advisor Matt Patricia (right) are pictured chatting together. The New England Patriots held a practice session on the grass fields outside of Gillette Stadium as they prepare for Sunday’s game vs. the Panthers in Charlotte. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
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The Patriots certainly have prioritized familiarity with their offensive coaching staff after longtime offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels left to take the Raiders’ head coaching job in Las Vegas.

So far, though, Bill Belichick’s moves to replace McDaniels and offensive assistant coaches Carmen Bricillo (offensive line) and Mick Lombardi (wide receivers) haven’t quite looked like what anyone expected.

Instead of old offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who has been linked to the job ever since McDaniels’s departure became imminent, the Patriots’ offense could instead be led by the likes of Joe Judge, Matt Patricia, and other remaining assistants, including tight ends coach Nick Caley.


Sports Illustrated senior NFL writer Albert Breer gave some insight in his latest installment of “Monday Morning Quarterback” into what Judge and Patricia’s still-undefined roles might be for a New England offense looking to make a leap in Mac Jones’s second season.

“As it stands now,” Breer writes, “Judge is expected to work with the quarterbacks, and Patricia with the line, and each will do so without much experience having coached offense before they became head coaches over the last few years (Judge came up working with the special teams, Patricia on defense). Which, obviously, is a dice roll given the critical point that Mac Jones is at.”

Technically, both Judge and Patricia have coached on the offensive side of the ball with the Patriots in the past. Judge worked as a wide receivers coach in 2019 in addition to his duties as special teams coordinator. Patricia actually got his start with New England as an offensive assistant (2004) and assistant offensive line coach (2005), so him working with the offensive line doesn’t seem too far-fetched. (He also helped coach the defensive line at times last season as an advisor to Belichick.)

Judge being one of the main voices in Mac Jones’s ear, though, feels like a risk, both because of his lack of experience working with quarterbacks and the fact that Daniel Jones didn’t exactly morph into a superstar under Judge’s eye in New York.


There might not be much else incoming, either, as Breer reports neither O’Brien, who’s currently with Alabama, nor former New York Jets head coach Adam Gase look likely to join the team.

The NFL insider also suggested the team’s decision to promote college scouting director Matt Groh to replace Dave Ziegler, who accepted the general manager job in Las Vegas alongside McDaniels, over scouting executive Eliot Wolf was similarly based on familiarity.

“My sense is Belichick turned to Groh—who wasn’t a manager in any way until last year (he was the team’s national scout from 2019 to ’20), and was an area scout just three years ago—largely because he wanted someone in there with background in the organization and someone he thought would be around a while.

Eliot Wolf was essentially Ziegler’s No. 2 over the last year, spent a decade as a director in Green Bay, was an assistant GM for two years in Cleveland, and is actually younger than Groh. But Wolf has also long been in the mix for GM jobs across the NFL, and interviewed for the Bears and Vikings’ jobs in January (feedback I got was that he was considered a strong candidate in both spots). And that, to some degree, makes him a flight risk, and it was probably tough for Belichick to swallow the idea of having to replace his personnel chief for a third straight year in ’23.”


On one hand, Belichick’s moves can be read as an attempt to maintain as much stability as possible heading into a crucial year that could determine the Patriots’ future direction.

But it could also be seen as a bold, perhaps even dangerous, bet on himself and his system, trusting both in his motley crew of assistants to craft a team in his image and in his ability to mold things with his own hands when necessary.


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