BOSTON -- It's now mid-May. Pretty soon, it will be June. Rookie minicamp was last week. OTAs resume next week. Mandatory minicamp is three weeks away. In other words, the train has left the station for the 2022 NFL season.
And yet, according to the Patriots' coaching staff, the team still hasn't decided who will play the key role of offensive play-caller when the games do begin.
Joe Judge confirmed to reporters this week that he's working closely with the quarterbacks, a group that obviously includes second-year quarterback Mac Jones. But Judge said that no decision has yet been made about which coach will be in Jones' ear every snap with the offensive play call.
"Look, I'll tell you directly and honestly right now, nothing has been declared or decided, or voiced to me," Judge told reporters over Zoom this week. "In terms of who calls plays, to be honest with you, that's not the main focus for us right now."
Judge added: "In terms of play-calling, I said, look, when Coach [Bill Belichick] declares who he wants to do it, we'll go ahead and move forward with that. That's not really going to be an issue. We have no egos on this staff. That's not really going to be [a problem]. We're preparing whatever we have to do to help the team, and we'll always address each day with that mentality."
A need for a new play-caller opened up this offseason when Josh McDaniels went to Las Vegas to become the Raiders' head coach. He also took three Patriots assistant coaches with him: Mick Lombardi, Carmen Bricillo, and Bo Hardegree. McDaniels ran the Patriots' offense for 13 years -- from 2006-08, then from 2012-21 -- leaving a massive void in the offensive coaching staff.
Last week, ESPN's Mike Reiss said that the Patriots are expected to have either Judge or Matt Patricia calling offensive plays in 2022. Judge rejoined the team after a two-year stint as the Giants' head coach, while Patricia returned to New England last year in an advisory capacity after his tenure as head coach of the Lions.
Patricia told the media this week that he's been working closely with the offensive line, more or less confirming reports that the O-line will be his area of focus in the upcoming season.
From that perspective, Judge would seemingly make more sense to call plays, considering he'll be working so closely with Jones and the rest of the quarterbacks. But then again, not much about this year's coaching staff has followed a traditional line of thinking. So for now, the mystery endures.
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