The Easiest and Thirstiest Take is to Critique the Matt Patricia New England Offense (and it is wrong)

by Hollywood Sports

It is the safest -- and thirstiest -- hot take to criticize Bill Belichick for tapping Matt Patricia as his offensive play-caller. And yet these hot-take artists are telling on themselves. Do you know why most of Mac Jones' passes on Monday were behind the line of scrimmage?

Three rotation players on the offensive line were out -- including starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn. Leading receiver Jakobi Meyers was out. DeVante Parker got injured early. Do ya think the Patriots should have then unleashed the Air Raid offense?

Belichick wins so many games by simply waiting for the other team to make a mistake. And too many of these opponents are happy to oblige. This is why New England owns the tie-breaker versus the Jets.

So many hot takers have been on hair-trigger tweet alert to bury Belichick since he has not had a Super Bowl contender since Tom Brady left. Isn't the sign of a great coach that your teams are still playing at .500 and contending for the playoffs without a franchise-level QB?

Winning half the games appears to be the floor for Belichick (24-22 now post-Brady after Monday) — and there are many highly regarded coaches in the league (Sean McVay, Kevin Stefanski, Matt LaFleur) who would love a .500 record right about now.

And I hate to break the news, but the Patricia/Judge combo is simply not the worst offensive coordinating staff this season if analytics mean anything (and these hot takers usually love them some 'lytics if it confirms their priors).

Football Outsiders ranked New England 25th in Offensive DVOA (26th run, 22nd pass) before Monday. Yet “offensive guru” Kliff Kingsbury with Kyler Murray at QB ranked 29th in Offensive DVOA -- bottoming out at 27th in the run and 28th in the passing game.

Certainly, Arizona has been hit hard by injuries (before Murray's season-ender in that game). But the Patriots don't seem to get the benefit of the doubt regarding their injuries on offense (because of the NFL pundit rule that injuries only matter when it salvages a prior).

I get it: if I had been a loud "Let Russ Cook" type, being proven devastatingly wrong has gotta sting (as many of these voices were when that was the safe take). But going after the low-hanging fruit of Patricia now coaching offense exposes a general lack of understanding.

Belichick believes wants to run the football while leaning on Special Teams and his 3rd ranked DVOA Defense to win games. I know this approach is not the route to get a 538 article, but it is, once again, putting the Patriots in the position to reach the playoffs.

What would New England's record be if their offensive coaching staff asked Jones to throw 40+ times a game? Better than 17-13? With that offensive roster? Of course, Belichick is an idiot for not having Mahomes at QB and Jefferson at WR while keeping that exact defense.

But Belichick and Patricia are operating precisely the offense they should be running to maximize their chance to win games. It may not win the Offensive DVOA Trophy. Yet New England ranks 12th in overall DVOA, despite failing the eye test of the analytics folks.

(And, btw, if one wants to challenge the reliability of DVOA, please let me join your Ted Talk: I can add another 90 minutes of content if provided a 15-second warning). I use these numbers here because (a) they are tempo-free and (b) the Patriots/Patricia critics love DVOA.

Bottom line: the worst offensive coordinators undermine that unit and team's overall potential. Matt Nagy was unable or unwilling to adapt the scheme he copied from Andy Reid in Chicago. The Chargers average 22.7 PPG with Herbert -- with their defense giving up 25.1 PPG.

I don't have any love for Patricia -- but I need to get the games right. I am appreciating Joe Judge coaching Jones on the sidelines while the less personable Patricia calls plays (would he get more respect if he had an offensive play chart the size of a Denny's menu?) 

This is the Belichick offense. And it is similar to the offense that Tom Brady was operating in the first two seasons as a starting quarterback. Brady was not running the run-and-shoot in 2001. The Patriots were a run-first team then. Wait for other teams to make mistakes. 

Best of luck -- Frank.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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