A new layer of concern from the offensive coaching staff — or at least a dubious new talking point — was added in New England this week during the Patriots’ mandatory mini-camp at Gillette Stadium.
After months of dismay from the coaching staff thanks to the departure of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the curious decision to combine former special teams boss/failed Giants head coach Joe Judge with former defensive coordinator/coach- Failed Lions leader Matt Patricia to try and fill the massive void, there’s a new factor in the New England offense that we all need to chew on a little more.
After a few players let the cat out of the bag in recent comments, Bill Belichick admitted during his mini-camp press conference that the Patriots are indeed using the 2022 offseason as a “good time to streamline things.” on the New England Offensive.
While Belichick acknowledged that part of this process was about terminology, he wouldn’t shed much more light on potential changes to the scheme other than sarcastically stating that New England would not run the “Veer Offense.” “.
Great! Now, not only do we have to get our boxers (or whatever your underwear of choice, white tights are cool too!) in a proverbial group to find out who’s on the offensive coaching staff and which of the candidates apparently ill-prepared is calling plays, but also what this guy is playing and whether the words he uses to call them are new and more effective.
(For the record, towards the end of the first day of mini-camp practice, Patricia was using a walkie-talkie to call games into Mac Jones’ helmet speakerphone. But that notable nugget in the Belichick-Judge monster- Patricia is a different column for a different day!)
McDaniels took over the New England offense originally devised by Belichick, Charlie Weis and Co. in 2005 and the system has been essentially the same – down to the verbiage – for two decades with nearly endless success. There were minor tweaks and personnel changes along the way, but basically that was what it was. And it was very productive.
Now, with Jones entering his critical second season after a rookie Pro Bowl campaign under the watchful eye of McDaniels and seemingly overly wordy play calls, change is in the air at Foxborough.
New coaches. New plays. New words.
There’s a lot new with the New England offense for 2022!
But one thing that is not really new is the talent of this attack. And that, more than anything else, will almost certainly decide the quality of the offense and, by extension, the quality of the Patriots’ team this fall.
As longtime former NFL player Cam Cameron said, the most overrated thing in football is the appeal of the game itself. Admittedly, the words used to call the play aren’t that critical either in the grand scheme of things.
Jimmys and Joes (not Judge!) are far more important than Xs and O’s, after all.
This is where the focus should be on New England’s offense this spring.
Is Jones able to take a big step forward in his sophomore season, giving himself and his team a chance to keep pace with a competitive schedule that includes elite opposing QBs like Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson (less likely by the ever-growing list of lawsuits), Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and the others?
Do New England, even with the addition of DeVante Parker, have enough passers and playmakers to perform at the required level against teams with proven options like Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and Stephon Diggs?
Are Damian Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson equipped to fight their way to elite success behind a new offensive line that has moved from its best player?
The list is lengthened increasingly.
The Patriots are not lacking in talent on offense. The depth chart is filled with plenty of seemingly pretty good options. But good enough may not be good enough.
And that, more than any coaching change, play call or terminology streamlining, will be the story of the Patriots offense this season with Jones at the helm.
As Belichick himself told us when opening his teams’ OTA practices this spring, “The execution of plays, I think, is much more important than the plays themselves.”
And the players who run these plays most often will decide the success rate, because they’re certainly far more important than the guys who call them, or even the words they use to call them.
Is New England’s offensive talent enough?
That’s all that will really matter in the end.
Any other questions about the offense, these are just misdirected plays at this point.