Serving as the New England Patriots’ de facto offensive coordinator this season, Matt Patricia has been at the heart of heavy criticism throughout the season.
While opposing coaches have called out his offense and national analysts call for Mac Jones to request a trade to get away from the coach, Patricia is ignoring the noise.
“I think we do a pretty good job here of training ourselves to just — we stay in our own little bubble for the most part and try to ignore as much of that as we can,” Patricia said during a videoconference on Tuesday. “We understand what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to just do everything we can to get better each week. That’s our focus. The focus has gotta be inside the building just trying to do everything we can to do a little bit better. So I don’t really pay attention to it, if I can.”
Patricia was again the center of criticism after a 27-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals Monday night. Despite the victory, New England struggled to move the football consistently throughout the night as they featured a conservative passing attack. On the night, Mac Jones threw 12 screen passes (32 percent of his attempts) and had an average depth of target of just 5.3 yards.
The game plan was likely a result of several factors. New England’s struggling offensive line matching up against Arizona’s blitz-happy defense expected to be the biggest one. But, the Patriots were also down a handful of key offensive playmakers.
The lack of success at times then came with visible frustration from quarterback Mac Jones for the second straight week. Jones was seen on the TV broadcast dropping multiple expletives, but claimed afterwards he is not frustrated with the offense.
“No,” Jones said after the game. “Matty P. did a great job. He’s trying to call the game so we can win. Sometimes it might be this thing that people don’t know about, like the quick passes for whatever reason, and that’s our game plan. We knew that’s what we had to do to win and he called a great game.”
Jones was later seen embracing Patricia on the sidelines with New England out in front on the scoreboard. Patricia explained on Tuesday that he loved the emotion his quarterback showed on the field.
“This is a super passionate game. We love this game, we put a lot into it. We work hard, and care. We’re trying to win, so I love all of that,” Patricia said. “All of it, is, you care, you really care. Mac and I are … I know he wants to win and he’s doing everything he can just like we all are. So, that stuff’s great.”
Patricia went on to add that he is no stranger to these types of things as he’s coached plenty of players with passion for the game.
“I’ve coached some pretty awesome rooms before. I’ve been around some pretty great players throughout the years. Those guys had a tremendous passion for the game, like Mac. You love to see that stuff,” Patricia explained. “You love to see it, and you always just try to direct it in a way that will help everyone in those moments get better, and that’s the biggest part of it as a coach.
“But I’ve been through some pretty fiery guys, don’t forget. Tedy Bruschi, Junior Seau, Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinest … there’s been some great players, and Mac is one of the guys who loves the game. So I love that.”
Other coaches on the Patriots’ staff shared a similar sentiment.
“In the heat of the game, you’ve got to deal with a lot of emotions,” quarterbacks coach Joe Judge said. “In terms of the passion on the sideline, everyone comes out in different ways. It’s [not] one way or the other. You take one quarterback who seems more laid back and say ‘he doesn’t like the game.’ You take one quarterback who has a lot of passion and say ‘he needs to calm down.’ You can’t have it both ways. People have to be themselves and you have to find a way to understand it as far as a coach, the best way to coach them and figure them out.”
“There’s passion, there’s fire, there’s competitiveness — I mean I’d rather be that way than the other way. It doesn’t bother me one bit,” tight ends coach Nick Caley added. “I think everybody wants to go out there and compete at a high level… It’s good to have passion. It’s good to care enough where you’re competitive and you want to go out there and want to execute down after down. I don’t overthink that. Again, I’d rather be that way than somebody that doesn’t care, that doesn’t show any emotion or exhibit any of those qualities. I don’t think much of it to be honest with you.”
With four games left on the Patriots schedule, New England needs every win they can get to stay in their current Wild Card spot. As those matchups comes against the Raiders, Bengals, Dolphins, and Bills, they must start to put things together on the offensive side of the ball.