We may finally have the answer to who will be calling offensive plays for the New England Patriots in Week 1. And the answer is reportedly Matt Patricia.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Patricia, the former head coach of the Detroit Lions, will be calling offensive plays for the Patriots. But he's not going to be doing it entirely by himself. He'll reportedly be calling plays with a "heavy influence" from head coach Bill Belichick.
From @NFLGameDay: The #Patriots offensive play-caller is expected to be senior football advisor Matt Patricia, with heavy influence from coach Bill Belichick, sources say. … Meanwhile, the #AZCardinals are not likely to have JJ Watt (calf), but TE Zach Ertz (calf) should play. pic.twitter.com/GtRrSxIXrz
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 11, 2022
Patricia, whose title with the Patriots is "Senior Football Advisor," had reportedly been in the running to call offensive plays alongside former New York Giants head coach Joe Judge, whose title is "offensive assistant." Both are part of the Belichick coaching tree. Patricia worked with Belichick on the Patriots for 15 years until he took the head coaching job with the Lions in 2017, and Judge spent nearly a decade with the Patriots until he went to the Giants in 2020.
Both Patricia and Judge rejoined the Patriots after being fired from their respective head-coaching jobs. Patricia was fired before the end of the 2020 season after going 13-29-1 over nearly three seasons, and was hired by Belichick before the 2021 season began. Judge went 10-23 with the Giants and was fired this past offseason, and just like he did with Patricia, Belichick hired him back into Patriots family.
Why will Belichick have 'heavy influence' on play calling?
Rapoport using the phrase "with heavy influence from coach Bill Belichick" is noteworthy. Belichick may have picked Patricia, but that suggests he may not fully trust him, since it sounds like Belichick will be a major part of the play-calling. It's not known if Josh McDaniels, who had been Belichick's offensive coordinator since 2012 before leaving to coach the Las Vegas Raiders this season, operated with the same "heavy influence" from his head coach.
But McDaniels' last failed coaching stint was way back in 2009-2010 (he went 11-17 as head coach of the Denver Broncos), so he had years to rebuild that trust with Belichick. Patricia was fired by the Lions less than two years ago, so maybe Belichick isn't ready to take the training wheels off just yet.
If Patricia is the new offensive play-caller, he'll get his first test on Sunday when the Patriots face the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m. ET.