Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots appear to have a plan to fill Josh McDaniels' void on offense. And it involves a lot of Bill Belichick.
While both Joe Judge (quarterbacks) and Matt Patricia (offensive line) will have roles working with the offense this season, our Tom E. Curran observed that Belichick was very "hands-on" with the offense during organized team activities earlier this week. Even if that doesn't mean Belichick will be New England's official offensive play-caller in 2022, the head coach at least is giving the impression that the buck stops with him on both sides of the ball.
During a recent episode of NBC Sports' "PFT Live," co-host Mike Florio put forth an interesting theory as to why Belichick hasn't named an offensive play-caller and has kept the roles of Judge and Patricia somewhat nebulous.
"I still, at some level, believe that Bill Belichick is trying to centralize responsibility," Florio told co-host Chris Simms. "He's trying to reduce the pressure and the scrutiny of the individual assistant coaches because I think he knows -- if he didn't know before they got the crap kicked out of them by the Bills in primetime to end their 2021 season ... and his son Steve supposedly is the de-facto defensive coordinator -- that's the type of performance that defensive coordinators get fired for.
"Look at what happened to the special teams coordinator of the Packers (Maurice Drayton) after that debacle in the Divisional Round against the 49ers. What happened? He's gone. Well, Bill isn't going to fire one of his kids. And if you ain't gonna fire one of your kids, it makes it harder to hold other people on the staff accountable as well.
"And you remove that storyline ... you remove that avenue for criticism, or at least you minimize it ... if no one really knows what the various staff members even do."
Simms, who worked on Belichick's staff in multiple roles during the 2012 season, seemed to co-sign Florio's theory, saying, "I don't doubt that."
To Florio's point, the Patriots' titles are even more ambiguous on defense: Jerod Mayo's official title is "inside linebackers coach" while Belichick's son Steve is "outside linebackers coach" despite both playing key roles in New England's defensive operation. (Steve Belichick was believed to be the defensive playcaller last year.) Belichick's other son, Brian, is listed as the team's safeties coach but likely has additional responsibilities as well.
"We don't do titles here," Mayo admitted during a recent press conference, adding that all of the Patriots' assistant coaches work with every position.
While that's nothing new for a Belichick-led staff -- the team hasn't had an official defensive coordinator since Patricia in 2017 and went 14-2 in 2010 without an offensive or a defensive coordinator -- it's interesting to wonder whether Belichick is keeping things murky to shield the blame from his assistants when things go wrong.
"I really think that at some level, he is trying to protect himself, and the two kids of his that work for him, from an awkward spot by keeping it very deliberately confusing as to who is doing what," Florio added. "I feel like at some level, that's part of the genius of Bill Belichick: circling the wagons around the coaching staff."
So, if the Patriots struggle on either side of the ball in 2022, you can place the blame on Belichick -- which might actually be what the longtime head coach wants.
Check out Florio's full comments at the 8:24 mark of the video below.