January 29, 2023

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NE Patriots should fire Matt Patricia if Tom Brady returns

Matt Patricia and Tom Brady

Matt Patricia and Tom Brady
Image: Getty Images

I like the New England Patriots a lot more than most this year. They don’t have any great wins, but their defense is stout, Rhamondre Stevenson is a delight to watch, and despite operating with only one seriously capable receiver — Jakobi Meyers — they’re still middle of the pack in terms of yards per play (5.4 — 17th in the NFL). There’s a lot to like about this team, but neither quarterback Mac Jones nor offensive coordinator Matt Patricia is doing the team any favors.

During last night’s game against the Buffalo Bills, a clip surfaced of Jones screaming at someone off-screen. Lip readers interpreted Jones saying “Throw the fucking ball! Fucking run game sucks!”

After the game though, Jones addressed the video and implied that he wasn’t talking about the run game, but rather the “quick game.” The Patriots were playing from behind and Jones believed the team needed more big, chunk plays rather than YAC plays and screens behind the line of scrimmage, even if that’s what was working.

Regardless of what aspect of the Patriots’ offense Jones was truly talking about, it raises some serious concerns. The Patriots scored ten points last night. Sure, the Bills are a good defense, but they didn’t have Von Miller. They didn’t have Micah Hyde. Gregory Rousseau was in his first game back from a high ankle sprain. AJ Epenesa was dealing with his own injury from two weeks ago and only played 37 percent of the defensive snaps. The Bills were not at full strength and yet they dominated every facet of the game following that Marcus Jones touchdown.

That doesn’t bode well for Mac Jones’ staying power in the NFL. Regardless of Patricia’s ineffectiveness as an offensive play-caller — and he’s pretty damn ineffective — 10 points against a hobbled defense without their best pass rusher and All-Pro safety is pretty worrisome. If the Patriots want to compete in the daunting AFC East in the near future, it’s clear that they need a more capable quarterback.

HARK! What’s this? Brady is rumored to return to the Patriots next season? This isn’t just anyone saying this. This rumor was first speculated by The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, a Patriots insider. While the story Howe wrote is merely a list of places Brady could go, Howe seemed adamant that his Patriots theory wasn’t just some take he whipped up out of thin air. “Don’t ever write off the Patriots,” wrote Howe. “Brady and Bill Belichick still have an abundance of respect for one another. They also spent 23 minutes together in the visiting locker room at Gillette Stadium following Brady’s return in 2021 — an appointment they set up prior to the game. The Patriots are slated to have more than $100 million in cap space in 2023, so they can again address their flaws, this time on the heels of a couple impressive draft classes.”

With no Gisele left in Brady’s path to prevent him from playing football, a return to the team that loves him more than anything in the world, a return to the place where all he had to think about was winning another Super Bowl, might not be as far-fetched as it initially seemed. The only problem is that Brady would likely want a say in who was running his offense, and given the lack of explosiveness and ingenuity seen this year, you can bet your ass that if Patricia is still the team’s offensive coordinator come 2023, Brady won’t be the team’s starting quarterback.

Howe hypothesizes that Brady would need to be comfortable with whoever’s in charge of the New England offense, and given Brady’s history, knowing Patricia as primarily a defensive mind…he’s clearly not the answer. Much more likely would be the oft-rumored Bill O’Brien or Brady’s safe space, Josh McDaniels, although the Las Vegas Raiders aren’t really in a financial position where they can afford to fire their head coach.

Regardless of who would replace Patricia, it’s clear the former Detroit Lions HC isn’t the answer. Everyone knows it. The Patriots currently rank 18th in intended air yards per pass attempt (7.4). They are fifth-best in drop percentage (3.5 percent). Mac Jones is fifth in completion percentage (68.1 percent). And New England has the third-best bad throw percentage in the NFL (11.5 percent), yet the offense can’t move the ball downfield effectively. That’s a horribly ineffective gameplan, and Brady won’t stand for that.

If the Patriots want Brady back, the first move they should make is getting rid of Matt Patricia. It’s as simple as that.