Bill Belichick Blamed for Dysfunctional Patriots Season by NE Insider: 'He F--ked Us'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 26, 2023

Foxborough, MA - January 4: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks on to the field during a practice session. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Sources in and around the New England Patriots organization blamed head coach Bill Belichick for the team's offensive dysfunction during the 2022 season.

One source told Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald: "I love coach [Belichick], but he f--ked us."

After longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left New England to become head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders last offseason, Belichick promoted Matt Patricia to the role of offensive play-caller and brought back Joe Judge to serve as quarterbacks coach, leading to arguably the worst offensive performance of the Belichick era.

With Patricia and Judge playing key roles, the Pats ranked just 26th in total offense this season and 17th in scoring offense. Their usually dominant running game ranked only 24th in the league, and they were 20th in passing after ranking 14th one year earlier.

One source believes Belichick tried to do right by the team but didn't have proper foresight in appointing Patricia and Judge to run the offense, saying: "It's always been about winning and doing what's best for the team. I really believe [Belichick] when he says that. I just think he really didn't understand how hard it was going to be."

Patricia was the Patriots' defensive coordinator from 2012 to 2017 before serving as head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2018 to 2020. Belichick brought him back in 2021 as a senior football advisor and offensive line coach, but he had no offensive play-calling experience.

Judge also spent time on the Patriots' staff previously, as a special teams assistant from 2012 to 2014, special teams coordinator from 2015 to 2019 and wide receivers coach in 2019.

Like Patricia, Judge had a failed stint as a head coach with the New York Giants from 2020 to 2021, and he was brought back to New England this season to be an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach.

One source said Judge's voice was phased out as the season went on after he would "command meetings" and "coached across positions" during training camp, drawing the ire of position coaches and Belichick, who would "blast" Judge during practices.

Another source said quarterback Mac Jones does not like Judge and that they regularly got into heated, "profanity-laced" arguments during practice.

New England made Jones the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and he showed signs of being a potential franchise quarterback during his rookie season.

Jones threw for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, was named a Pro Bowler and helped the Pats reach the playoffs with a 10-7 record.

While he did miss some time with an ankle injury this season, Jones took a significant step back even when healthy, throwing for 2,997 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 14 games. The Patriots also went only 8-9 and missed the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons.

Life after the departure of quarterback Tom Brady has been difficult for the Pats, as they were consistently among the best offensive teams in football for 20 years with Brady under center and McDaniels calling the plays for much of that time.

Per Callahan, sources noted that some players were frustrated this season with the switch from the team's usual offense to the type of offense Mike Shanahan used to run with the Denver Broncos.

None of Belichick's offensive assistants had experience running that system, and the players who did have experience playing in the Shanahan system reportedly expressed concern over the coaches' apparent lack of understanding.

There was also reportedly a feeling among players that things were oversimplified offensively and that not enough passing concepts were implemented ahead of the start of the regular season.

In an effort to improve on this season's dismal offensive performance, Belichick has turned to another of his former assistants in Bill O'Brien, who was hired as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

O'Brien was a Patriots assistant from 2007 to 2011, serving as quarterbacks coach from 2009 to 2011 and as offensive coordinator in 2011. After stints as head coach at Penn State and with the Houston Texans, he was the OC and quarterbacks coach at Alabama from 2021 to 2022.

O'Brien has a history of success as a play-caller at both the NFL and collegiate levels, which is something the Patriots sorely lacked on their coaching staff this season.