The Patriots coaches made their first appearance of the offseason on Monday as the team begins to ramp up their offseason workouts and there were some familiar faces making their first reappearances, as Matt Patricia and Joe Judge will both be part of the offensive coaching staff this season.
Patricia had returned to the Patriots last season but that was in an advisor role. Now, he'll be back in a more familiar role that is a return to his coaching roots and one which requires him to jump back into the virtual media interview fray. Even so, Patricia seemed genuinely happy and excited to be back in the coaching mix in New England.
"Super happy to be back in the organization, [I was] in a senior advisor role last year, being in a position where I can really just do whatever I could do to help Coach Belichick," said Patricia of his 2021 role. "This year, I've been able to be out there with the offensive guys working with the offensive line, working on technique and talking about some just basic fundamental stuff, but nothing really heavy on that."
Judge, who returned to the Patriots earlier this offseason, will also be coaching the offense where he said he'll be working with Mac Jones and the quarterbacks. However, he also pointed out that at least for now, it's still a group effort.
"I am working with Mac along with some other people on the offense, working with the skill group on offense. All of us are working collectively as a coaching unit to work with the entire offense," said Judge, later confirming that playcalling duties have not yet been determined by Coach Belichick.
Both Judge and Patricia have a laundry list of experience in football and specifically with the Patriots. Though neither has ever coordinated an offense, Patricia pointed out that his long-time football education under Coach Belichick included an all-around approach that should prepare him as well as any other coach who might be called upon for a role outside of their direct experience.
"You know, for us, especially here, and Coach does a great job of this and this is something I learned from my first day in the door, you learn about all facets of the game, you learn about offense and defense, positions, technique and fundamentals," said Patricia. "You put yourself in a situation where really you're comfortable coaching anybody on the field at any time and whatever side of the ball it is. That's different here, that's not like that everywhere."
"I love coaching football, I don't care what you ask me to coach, I like coaching all positions," said Judge. "I really enjoy offensive football. I've played and coached football as far back as I can remember. I've worked and coached on all three sides of the ball, I've worked here on the special teams, and have worked on the skill group on offense. When I was with the special teams, Coach always does a really good job of developing them as a whole total coach. There were springs and falls that I spent sitting with the offensive line, the quarterbacks, different position groups which helped prepare me in a lot of different avenues to be a more complete coach."
Ultimately the most important thing for the offensive coaching staff is the onfield production and development of quarterback Mac Jones. With a full array of weapons returning, along with an injection of some choice free agents and rookies, New England's offense will look to build around Jones' solid rookie campaign.
"I like the way he handled and commanded the huddle when we practiced against him, that's what stood out to me, not the completions, incompletions, whatever it might be," said Judge of his impression of Mac from joint practices, where the rookie got the vast majority of important reps with Cam Newton out of action due to COVID-19 protocols. "It was really just seeing him interact... When he stepped in the huddle you could see a command, you could see the player's eyes on him, that's something that really stood out to me, 'all right, they're gonna be okay with this young guy.'"
"I think one of the things you notice about Mac right away when you're around him a lot is just how hard he works," said Patricia. "He's a very bright kid, he picks up the offense very quickly. He's got a great football mind and that's something as a young player... you look at young players who are coming to the league and you ask how much can they handle, how much can they do... I think he just tried to plow ahead and it was pretty remarkable with our offensive system and the cadences and the different communication and the looks and formations and the plays... really for a young guy, he just didn't miss a beat. It was very, very impressive from that standpoint."