Could Matt Patricia be the heir to Bill Belichick, as the coach or G.M. or both?
Former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has returned to the team in a role with a different title and far different duties. The Schrutian “special assistant to the head coach” is indeed assisting head coach Bill Belichick, in many different ways. The situation invites reasonable speculation as to whether this could lead to Patricia getting his next shot as a head coach not with some other team but when New England’s current head coach stops coaching.
Ben Volin of the Boston Globe takes a comprehensive look at Patricia’s current duties. He has signed every free-agent contract on behalf of the team this year, and he has served as the primary “sounding board” for Belichick on matters like the decision to select quarterback Mac Jones with the fifteenth overall pick in the 2021 draft.
Volin notes that Patricia also shows up on the practice field. On Thursday, he stood “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Belichick for the opening thirty minutes of OTA practice. Patricia then spent time showing technique to defensive linemen and observing defensive drills.
While folks like Dave Ziegler and Eliot Wolf have absorbed some of the many duties previously performed by Nick Caserio, who is now the G.M. of the Texans, Patricia has gotten the bulk of the responsibilities.
Regardless of whether and to what extent Patricia’s current duties may lead to a bigger role in the post-Belichick Patriots, Patricia has landed in an ideal spot to expand his experience and knowledge of a modern (and elite) football operation. As Peter King previously has noted on PFT Live, the Rams came away from their head-coaching interview with Patricia in 2017 thinking that he eventually could become a great General Manager.
Maybe he’ll do that. Or maybe he’ll become a head coach again. Or both. The real question is whether he’s willing to wait for Belichick, who turned 69 last week, to move on -- and whether Patricia believes he’d win the ensuing scrum with Josh McDaniels and the pair of Belichick sons currently working for the team.
Don’t underestimate Patricia’s chances. He has long been regarded as brilliant within the Patriots organization. Despite his inability to transplant the Patriot Way to a midwestern organization that has largely lost its way for the past six decades years, the 46-year-old Patricia ultimately could be the ideal choice to continue things the way they started when Belichick arrived in 2000.