With long-time coordinator Josh McDaniels now in Las Vegas, the New England Patriots’ operation on the offensive side of the ball will be looking quite differently. How much, though? Quite a bit, as the club is apparently installing a new system altogether.
Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne mentioned as such during a recent media appearance. Speaking to reporters at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts Golf Classic on Thursday, Bourne talked about the process of installing the offensive playbook in Year 1 after McDaniels.
“It’s been dope so far,” Bourne said, via ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss. “Joe Judge, our newest member, he’s doing a great job. Really just new terminology, new words. Football is football, so it’s just about learning new words, getting the old words out. And just applying my abilities to the new system.
“I think he’s putting us in a position to be successful. I’m excited so far. I’ve rushed the ball a lot, doing different things for myself. And he’s even using other players and their strengths. Hopefully, we’ll have a great year. We’ll see how it goes.”
A free agency acquisition in 2021, Bourne had a promising first campaign in New England. Appearing in all 18 of the team’s games, he ended the season ranked second in receptions (62), receiving yards (877) and receiving touchdowns (7). A versatile member of the Patriots’ offense and locker room leader, he also gained 125 rushing yards on 12 carries and even had a 25-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor.
Bourne being able to duplicate this success in the apparent new system — or, ideally, build on it — remains to be seen, especially given the circumstances. However, he does not seem too worried about McDaniels’ departure to become head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
“It’s lines on the paper, and you follow the lines,” he told NESN’s Zack Cox. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to be a football player, and you have to sometimes adjust. You can’t just follow the exact line and get covered. You have to be a savvy football player. I’m getting paid to use my ability, and they put me in position to use my ability.
“Once I’m in position and know what I’m doing, now it’s time to use my ability, and that’s the biggest thing. So, learning the new terms and just building that relationship with the new coaches.”
With McDaniels as well as fellow assistant coaches Mick Lombardi (wide receivers), Carmen Bricillo (offensive line) and Bo Hardegree (assistant quarterbacks) all gone, the Patriots will rely on their remaining staff as well as Joe Judge and Matt Patricia.
The aforementioned Judge will be working with the quarterbacks and skill position players, while Patricia will be heavily involved with the offensive line. There has been some speculation whether or not the two will receive the passing game/running game coordinator titles this year, even though head coach Bill Belichick was noncommittal on that topic earlier this week.
Nonetheless, it appears that Judge and Patricia are currently installing a different version of the Patriots offense than the one that was in place during McDaniels’ 10-year tenure as OC. Of course, a new terminology and system does not necessarily mean starting from square one.
“One of my coaches used to tell me back in college, ‘Everybody’s running the same plays, they just have different names,’” rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton said just earlier this week about learning the New England playbook. “Once you put it together it will be like, ‘Oh yeah, this is kind of similar to what I ran in college.’ So, you learn the concepts and that should stick with you.”
Some of those concepts will have different names this year in New England. What else Bourne meant by “new system,” meanwhile, is anybody’s guess at this point in time.