Given the Patriots’ success over the past 20-plus seasons operating in this fashion, concerns about the ambiguous nature of the coaching staff’s titles are overblown. New England has a set way of doing things under Belichick, and that won’t change no matter who calls the plays. The Patriots operate as a team in every way, and their coaching staff will make a collective effort to get it right on game day.
Take this description of his own role from Joe Judge, who left the Patriots to become head coach of the Giants and returned to Belichick’s team this year at the end of his two seasons in New York:
“I work with Mac (Jones), with the whole offensive skill group,” Judge said. “I would say we all work collectively as a coaching unit with the whole attack. So that’s the most direct and specific answer I can give you on that. … It’s been a priority for us as coaches, we want to make sure that we can train all the players and that nobody is there with a lack of attacking knowledge.”
Judge, listed as offensive assistant, should to work closely with quarterbacks, but he could take on the role of offensive playmaker or share responsibilities with Nick Caley (tight ends/full backs). Then there’s Matt Patricia, whose first tenure for the Patriots included several coaching stints on either side of the ball, culminating in a six-season stint (2012-17) as the team’s last official defensive coordinator. Now tasked with assisting in attack (specifically, the line) as senior football adviser, the former Lions head coach is a prime example of how the team trains coaches to help create contingency plans for coaching departures or emergency situations.
On defense, the titles and responsibilities of Mayo and Bill Belichick’s son, Steve Belichick, have been the subject of public discussion. But anyone who hangs up on those details ignores Bill Belichick’s influence. As one of the greatest defensive minds in football, he certainly plays an important role in the game planning and calling process; it doesn’t matter which assistant coach is holding the sign or talking to the green dot defender (designated communicator) between snaps.
Looking ahead to the 2022 season, the versatility, flexibility and adaptability of the Patriots coaching staff will continue to make this team a viable threat in the AFC. While losing McDaniels will certainly impact quarterback Mac Jones after a promising rookie season, the Patriots’ system won’t change. Whoever ends up calling the plays will simply alter the pattern to accentuate the strengths of the individuals on offense.
This franchise excels in in-game adjustments thanks to their superior preparation. The coaching approach is part of a long-term plan that will allow the team to be a dark horse regardless of the mystery surrounding staff roles and responsibilities.