Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, left, made Matt Patricia, center, New England’s offensive play caller and Joe Judge, right, the quarterback coach. Those moves didn’t seem to work out for New England, which finished 8-9 and missed the playoffs. Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini

FOXBOROUGH, Mass — Bill Belichick still won’t give it up.

He won’t publicly admit that his decision to put Matt Patricia and Joe Judge in charge of Mac Jones and the Patriots offense was a huge mistake.

He refuses to acknowledge that square pegs don’t belong in round holes. He won’t back off his contention that a good coach can successfully lead any phase of the game, whether said coach has any experience in that area or not.

Needless to say, it was fruitless to expect a “my bad” or a mea culpa from the six-time Super Bowl winning head coach, or to think he’d admit messing up with that duo in particular.

Even in hindsight, Belichick wasn’t about to openly acknowledge that given how everything turned out with Jones and the offense, making Patricia the play-caller and Judge the quarterbacks coach wasn’t the wisest move.

To no surprise, during his media conference Monday, he didn’t concede much of anything on that point. He just danced around the topic and wasn’t in the mood to throw Patricia and Judge under the bus.


“At that point in time, at every point in time, I’ve always made what I felt like were the best decisions for the team. That’s all I can say. You can have your opinion on it. I understand that,” Belichick said in response to his questionable hires last offseason. “But I always did what I felt was best for the team in every area, at every point in time since I’ve been the head coach of the New England Patriots. And I will always continue to do that.

“I’ll put the team first, and do what I feel is best for the team. Whether you agree or disagree with that is up to you. I respect that. But I’ll always do what I feel’s best.”

While Belichick acknowledged having made mistakes over time, he wouldn’t admit to this particular blunder. He kept referring back to making the best decision at the time.

Think he’ll play dodge ball with the Patricia/Judge topic during his end-of-season meeting with owner Robert Kraft?

When Belichick tapped Patricia and Judge to essentially replace longstanding offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, there was plenty of skepticism expressed, not to mention more than a few eye rolls by the media and fans at large. Neither Patricia nor Judge had ever performed the roles they were given, much less called plays or dealt with a quarterback.

These were the best choices at the time?


Why wouldn’t Belichick talk to Nick Saban about freeing Bill O’Brien from the final year of his deal at Alabama? That would have been a better choice. Even former Jets head coach Adam Gase would have worked out better, at least in theory given his knowledge of calling plays and running an offense.

Perhaps even trying tight ends coach Nick Caley, who coached for seven years alongside McDaniels, would have been a wiser choice. And, if Belichick was so hellbent on changing the offense, and moving toward the simpler Shanahan-style scheme, there were plenty of people out there who at least coached in that offense and had a handle on it that he could have brought in.

But as crazy as it sounded letting Patricia and Judge be the stewards of Jones, deemed once the Patriots’ next franchise quarterback, Belichick, for the most part, was given the benefit of the doubt given his resume. Obviously, the results weren’t good, as many had predicted would be the case.

Statistically, Jones regressed as his completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer rating all dipped under first-year play caller Patricia. Jones finished with fewer than 3,000 yards, completing 65.2% of his passes for 2,997 yards. He threw 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while missing three games.

At times, he showed his frustration on the field, and seemed to have lost the confidence he exuded his first season under McDaniels.

Belichick kept harping on making the best decision at the time. Did that mean the timing wasn’t good in terms of finding someone with actual experience running an offense?


“That isn’t what I’m saying. Each time you get a decision point, you look at your options, and make the best decision you can for the team whatever that is … whether that’s fourth-and-1, the third round of the draft, or whatever that is,” he said. “Whatever we did in the past in any area, whether it’s play calls, coaches, players, whatever, at that time, is what we thought was best.

“We looked at our options and thought we picked the best one. Some worked out, some didn’t. Some were good decisions, some were, in retrospect, maybe not good decisions. But at the time they were always what we thought was best in every area. That’s the way it’ll always be.”

Asked the question another way, if he thought he put the offense in the best position to succeed, Belichick continued to fall back on always doing what’s best for the football team. The fact he was in the minority about what was best has never fazed him in the past. And many times, he’s been proven correct.

Just not this time. In the process, the most important player on the team took a step back.

Maybe he can talk around it with the media, but there’s no way he can justify that to the owner.

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