Is veteran defensive coordinator Matt Patricia the right man to run the Patriots’ offense?

Matt Patricia has a new job description.

He’s calling plays for the New England Patriots offense. For now at least. Part time. The former Detroit Lions head coach split offensive playmaking duties with Joe Judge in New England’s preseason game against the New York Giants on Thursday.

The scene drew attention because, well, why is Patricia calling the New England offense? Prior to her unsuccessful three-year stint with the Lions, Patricia spent six seasons as New England’s defensive coordinator and six seasons before that coaching New England’s linebackers and safeties.

On Monday he broached the subject.

“It’s just collaborative from that standpoint,” Patricia told reporters of the snaps along with Joe Judge. “We’re following Coach Belichick’s example.” day. And that’s the beauty of it. That’s what I love.”

So is he competing with Judge for the de facto offensive coordinator job?

“No, we’re 100 percent trying to make sure that we do everything we can as coaches to allow our players to go and do everything they can on the pitch. That’s what’s important, not the rest. If that makes any sense.”

It makes sense for Patricia to follow the company line and avoid giving a real answer. Judge also declined to give a firm answer, referring to Belichick’s leadership.

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His comments echo Belichick’s intentionally obtuse response Thursday when asked about Judge and Patricia taking turns calling plays, which he described as “going through a process.”

“I thought it would be a good opportunity for us to do that,” Belichick said of dividing up play-calling duties while brushing off questions about who the actual offensive coordinator will be.

The answer to that question is no one, technically. The Patriots announced official coaching titles in July with no one claiming the role of offensive or defensive coordinator. Patricia’s job title after rejoining the team as assistant head coach in 2021 is now officially “senior football advisor/offensive line.” Judge, who rejoined the Patriots’ staff after his own stint as head coach with the New York Giants, is listed as “offensive assistant/quarterbacks.”

Joe Judge, Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick will be benched against the Giants on Thursday. (Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

There are countless Belichickian reasons why he chooses not to appoint coordinators. But at some point, ideally before the regular season begins, someone will take over the call-the-play duties.

Last year and years prior, that duty belonged to now-Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels. Who is the defensive coordinator? Technically, New England hasn’t had one since, you guessed it, Patricia, in 2017.

Belichick’s son, Steve Belichick, is the linebackers coach and de facto defensive coordinator in charge of calling the plays on game day. Which partly explains why Patricia didn’t return to her defensive coordinator role. As for why he appears to be auditioning to run New England’s offense and is reportedly the favorite for the job? He is not completely new to that side of the ball.

Before shifting her career focus to defense, Patricia worked as an offensive assistant and assistant offensive line coach her first two seasons in New England (2004-05). Belichick explained his confidence in Patricia as an offensive coach at league meetings in March.

“We’ve had a lot of coaches who have taken on multiple responsibilities,” Belichick said. “Josh (McDaniels) and Brian Daboll were on defense and then on offense. Matt was on offense, then he went on defense. So on and so on. So I’m not really worried about that.”

Meanwhile, it’s not like Judge has an illustrious career as an offensive coach. He was an assistant or special teams coordinator for his entire eight-season tenure on Belichick’s staff before his two-year tenure as Giants manager. Now, like Patricia, he has returned to Belichick’s staff after his own failed stint as head coach while he had the opportunity to fill a new role.

The perceived lack of preseason structure on offense has raised concerns about the development of second-year quarterback Mac Jones. Belichick is widely considered the greatest coach of all time and doesn’t care about those outside concerns. He has this. Right?

Belichick obviously earned the benefit of the doubt for any of his unorthodox coaching decisions. And all of this will be forgotten if the Patriots play well on offense and Jones continues to develop in his second NFL season. But what if Jones takes a step back? Belichick will spend a lot of time this season deflecting questions about New England’s offensive leadership.

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