Why Bill Belichick didn't name an offensive or defensive coordinator for 2022 NFL season

Richard Morin
USA TODAY Sports+

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick decided against naming an offensive or defensive coordinator for the 2022 season.

The Patriots' decision not to replace Josh McDaniels, who served as New England's offensive coordinator for the last 10 years before joining the Las Vegas Raiders as their head coach, left some questions as to how the team plans to approach things from a coaching perspective this season.

Belichick said the Patriots plan to deploy a collaborative approach where a number of assistant coaches — many of whom have vague, non-specific titles — will have input on play-calling and other duties belonging to a traditional coordinator's role.

"We're not really big on titles and all that," Belichick said in a press conference Tuesday. "It's important that we all work together and create a good final product. That's what we're going to try to do. That's what we've always done."

Here's a rundown of why the Patriots elected to go this route, what the implications are and why it's actually par for the course when it comes to Belichick:

Why didn't Belichick name any coordinators?

Belichick has a history of not naming immediate replacements after his coordinators leave to take head-coaching jobs elsewhere.

The Patriots have actually gone without at least one coordinator in 10 of Belichick's 23 seasons. The team went a full season without both an offensive and defensive coordinator in 2010, and the Patriots went 14-2 and had the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL.

Belichick, who is the NFL's longest-tenured head coach, has not named a defensive coordinator since 2017 — before Matt Patricia left to become head coach of the Detroit Lions. Patricia re-joined the Patriots in 2021 as a senior football advisor and offensive line coach.

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The Patriots also did not name an immediate replacement when McDaniels departed for the Denver Broncos in 2009, instead keeping the position vacant until 2011 when they tapped Bill O'Brien for the position. After McDaniels was fired by the Broncos and then-St. Louis Rams after one season as offensive coordinator, McDaniels was re-hired to the role in 2012.

New England brought in Joe Judge this season after a two-year stint as head coach with the New York Giants. Judge served as the Patriots' special teams coordinator from 2015-19. His role with the Patriots is as an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach.

Both Judge and Patricia will coach the offense and are still collecting money from their previous teams, which could be one reason why Belichick didn't elevate them to coordinator positions — despite the fact both may be executing duties that traditionally fall to the OC. Belichick meanwhile reinforced Tuesday his responsibility for all aspects of the team's performance.

"Look, I'm the head coach," Belichick said. "Ultimately, I'm responsible for everything. So that's what it is."

The Patriots do have one coordinator on staff. Cam Achord will head up special teams for the third consecutive season.

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Gillette Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Who will be calling plays for the Patriots in 2022?

Belichick won't say definitively who will call plays this season. Both Patricia and Judge would certainly be qualified to serve as coordinators, but Belichick clearly wanted those positions to remain open.

"I think, as I've said many times, Matt and Joe are two outstanding coaches in every sense of the word — whatever those duties entail," Belichick said Tuesday. "They're very good, exceptional at the entire gamut. Glad we have both of them and they do a good job."

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In terms of defensive play-calling, that duty in recent years has fallen to Belichick's oldest son, Steve, who is the Patriots' linebackers coach. Steve Belichick can sometimes be seen on the sideline during games and huddling up with the defense after an opponent's drive. Other times it is Bill in the huddle.

Offensively, the duty could fall to either Patricia or Judge — or a combination of both. It remains to be seen whether Belichick can simultaneously be in defensive meetings and call offensive plays during games. We'll keep an eye on that.

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, left, talks with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia before a game against the New York Giants, Sept. 3, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass.

How does this affect Mac Jones?

Some Patriots fans are concerned the lack of an offensive coordinator and the potential of conflicting voices in his head won't bode well for second-year quarterback Mac Jones.

Jones had an impressive rookie season under McDaniels but goes into his sophomore campaign without a singular offensive voice above him. Even Tom Brady had consistency early in his Patriots career with Charlie Weiss occupying the offensive coordinator role from 2000-04.

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Regardless, Belichick said he is thrilled with Jones' physical work and conditioning and said the 2021 No. 15 overall pick has made a "dramatic improvement" from last season.

"We're just a lot further ahead in the conversation," Belichick said of Jones' offseason progression. "We have a much better feel for what he can do, what his strengths are and how to play into those."