For the first time in over a decade, the New England Patriots did not make the playoffs. The team has no apparent solution at the quarterback position. And whoever lines up under center in 2021 better pray Bill Belichick finally figures out how to draft an NFL-caliber wide receiver.
Due largely to his poor drafting, the architect of the most dominant dynasty in the history of professional sports has a roster full of holes. So with the future of the franchise hanging by a thread, Belichick is desperately bringing back an old friend to save the Patriots from completely falling apart.
The Patriots have major issues to address this offseason
For years, Tom Brady covered up Bill Belichick’s personnel blunders. But in 2020, New England’s fundamentally flawed roster finally got exposed.
As Cam Newton discovered, New England does not have much in the way of NFL-caliber weapons. Jakobi Meyers, who joined the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2019, led the team with 59 catches for 724 yards. Meanwhile, N’Keal Harry, who went 32nd overall that same year, averaged a pitiful 9.4 yards per catch and may not last much longer in Foxborough.
To make matters worse, the tight end position failed to provide any impact for the second straight year. Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi combined for five catches despite arriving as third-round picks in the 2020 NFL draft.
On defense, the Patriots’ star studded-secondary couldn’t make up for a front seven that simply lacked adequate size and speed. After allowing an NFL-low 14.1 points per game in 2019, New England surrendered 22.1 per game during a disappointing 7-9 season.
Without Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy in the fold, the pass rush completely dried up. Plus, the Patriots got overpowered in the running game because they did not have starting-caliber linebackers and defensive linemen.
Clearly, Belichick has major work to do this offseason to prevent his team from slipping further down the AFC East standings. And the aging head coach has apparently gotten so desperate that he’s turned to a familiar face to save the franchise from completely falling apart.
Bill Belichick is desperately bringing back an old friend to save his franchise from falling apart
Patriots fans would like to forget Super Bowl 52. After all, despite a record-setting night from TB12, the Philadelphia Eagles hoisted the Lombardi Trophy thanks to a stunning performance by Nick Foles.
In a highly controversial game that included the mysterious benching of Malcolm Butler, New England surrendered 538 total yards and 41 points.
Despite a nightmarish performance by his defense in the biggest game of the year, Matt Patricia still got the promotion of a lifetime. However, like many members of the Bill Belichick coaching tree, he failed massively when given the opportunity to run his own team.
The Detroit Lions fired Patricia after the team got off to a 4-7 start last season. He compiled an ugly 13-29-1 record and did little to change the team’s culture in a positive way.
Yet, that hasn’t stopped Belichick from extending a career-saving opportunity to his old friend.
On Friday, Jim McBride of The Boston Globe first reported that Patricia will return to the Patriots to assist the coaching staff “in a variety of roles.”
Ian Rapoport later tweeted, “Evaluating personnel will be a big part of this for Matt Patricia on a deal that’s been in the works for a week.”
Overall, it sounds like Belichick has big plans for his former defensive coordinator to help fix a roster that needs a massive overhaul this offseason. But could Patricia find himself doing his old job again in the near future?
Is Matt Patricia destined to become New England’s defensive coordinator again?
Assuming the reports about Matt Patricia having a hand in personnel evaluation are true, that at least gives Bill Belichick another set of eyes in the scouting process. And based on New England’s abysmal draft results in recent years, that can only be a good thing for the future of the franchise.
Surprisingly, Patricia (and former Lions general manager Bob Quinn) actually found some impact players in their three draft classes. Frank Ragnow and Tyrell Crosby have locked down starting positions along the offensive line. Former first-round pick T.J. Hockenson looks like the NFL’s next great tight end. And Jeff Okudah and D’Andre Swift showed flashes of Pro Bowl potential as rookies.
Perhaps without the pressure of having to maintain a public persona, Patricia can actually use his football knowledge and No. 2 pencil to write up detailed scouting reports and help Belichick start making better decisions on draft day.
In addition, by returning to New England, the 46-year-old will also assist a coaching staff that has experienced significant turnover since he left.
Brian Flores parlayed his lone year as the team’s unofficial defensive coordinator into a head-coaching gig with the Miami Dolphins. Other assistant coaches on that side of the ball have also departed in recent years, including Josh Boyer and Brendan Daly.
Despite all the defections, Belichick has refused to name either Jerod Mayo or Steve Belichick as defensive coordinator.
Could that be Patricia’s job in the near future?
Given his experience as both an NFL head coach and a defensive play-caller, that certainly seems like a solid possibility. And at this point, with the franchise in dire straights, Bill Belichick may be desperate enough to give his old friend that honor over his own son sooner than later.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.