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New England Patriots offense is a mess but optimism remains for 2022

Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots senior football advisor Matt Patricia coaches quarterback Mac Jones (10) at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

• The New England Patriots’ offense has been outplayed by the team's defense through the first three weeks of training camp.

• Head coach Bill Belichick prioritized giving Matt Patricia a key role on staff over keeping offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo.

• New England is blending new and old elements into their updated offense.

•  One of the offense's goals is to make the offense more easily accessible for new players, and it seems to be working with WR Nelson Agholor and TE Jonnu Smith.


FOXBORO, Mass. — The lasting image from the first two weeks of New England Patriots training camp will be quarterback Mac Jones taking a snap, feeling pressure, scrambling out of the pocket, failing to find an open wide receiver and eventually tossing the ball away as he runs toward the sideline in frustration.

It hasn’t been an ideal start to the summer for an offense that should be trending upward with a second-year quarterback who is primed to take a leap after an efficient and impressive rookie campaign.

Longtime center, two-time Super Bowl champion and team captain David Andrews couldn’t hide his disappointment when he faced the media last Monday afternoon after another unseasonably hot day in the midst of a brutal New England heat wave as the Patriots’ offense continued to look outmatched and outmanned against the team's defense.

Putting on a happy face after the Patriots’ offense started 11-on-11 drills with a false start, run stuff, incompletion, another run stuff, sack, short completion, pass breakup and another sack as the defense’s celebrations became more and more bombastic would have been disingenuous.

The next day, Andrews was involved in two fights during practice and got kicked off the field — per team policy — but stuck around for conditioning work and still delivered a speech to the offense after practice. It’s not hard to guess what Andrews’ intentions were — get the unit fired up and show some literal fight. The practice, in general, was more subdued as the team prepped for its first preseason game, but the offense was able to move the ball against the defense. It wasn’t all bad on Tuesday, and backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, who’s seen it all through three stints in New England, was much more optimistic after the session, noting that mistakes had been corrected in the 24-hour span.

“Sometimes the best way to learn is to screw it up, go in, watch the film, make the adjustments and then come back out,” Hoyer said. “(Tuesday) obviously was a much better day than it was (Monday).”

Jones felt they were “two percent” away.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to figure it out and make this thing work,” Jones said. “We have good coaches that are laying the path for us, and we just have to see it how they see it, and come together and dominate together.”

And within the building, it’s important to note that no one on staff seems to be panicking, as that sort of alarm is not “the Patriot way.” The prevailing thought is that once New England can start facing other opponents, the offense will look better when it can establish the run, use play-action to soften the defense and open up the dropback menu, per a source.

Nonetheless, that’s not a guarantee, and through two weeks of practice, the defense has more won more often in practice than its respective offense.


UNIQUE COACHING CONSTRUCT

On its surface, no one should be shocked that the Patriots’ offense is having a hard time getting off the ground this summer. Ex-offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left to become Las Vegas Raiders‘ head coach this offseason and brought along with him ex-Patriots wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi, assistant quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree and offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo — who a source says had one year remaining on his contract in New England but was permitted to leave when head coach Bill Belichick chose to make former Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia the team’s offensive line coach. 

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