As the New England Patriots’ de facto offensive coordinator this season, Matt Patricia has been the center of intense criticism all season.
Despite opposing coaches calling out his abuse and national analysts calling for Mack Jones to demand a trade to get rid of the coach, Patricia ignores the noise.
“I think we’re doing a pretty good job of educating ourselves — staying in our own little bubble for the most part and trying to ignore as much as possible,” Patricia said during a video conference call on Tuesday. “We understand what we’re trying to do. We try to do our best to be better every week. This is our focus. The focus has to be inside the building, just trying to do everything we can do a little bit better. Therefore, if I can, I don’t really pay attention to it.”
Patricia was again the center of criticism after Monday night’s 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Despite the win, New England struggled to move the football consistently throughout the night as they had a conservative passing attack. On the night, Mack Jones threw 12 screen passes (32 percent of his attempts) and averaged just 5.3 yards of target depth.
The game plan was likely the result of several factors. New England’s struggling offensive line matching Arizona’s blitz-happy defense will likely be the biggest. But, the Patriots also lost several key offensive players.
The lack of success at times came with visible frustration from quarterback Mack Jones for the second straight week. Jones was seen on television slurring a few words, but later said he was not dismayed by the crime.
“No,” Jones said after the game. “Matty P. did a great job. He’s trying to call the game so we can win. Sometimes it can be something that people don’t know, like quick passes for whatever reason, and that’s our game plan. We knew that was what we had to do to win and he called it a great game.”
Jones was later seen cuddling up to Patricia with New England ahead on the scoreboard. Patricia explained on Tuesday that she loved the emotion her defender showed on the field.
“It’s a super passionate game. We love this game, we put so much into it. We work hard and we care. We try to win, so I love it all,” said Patricia. “It’s all about, you care, you really do. You care. Mac and I are … I know he wants to win and he’s doing everything he can, as are we all. So it’s all great.”
Patricia added that she is no stranger to these types of things as she has coached many players with a passion for the game.
“I used to train in some pretty awesome rooms. I’ve been around some great players over the years. These guys had a lot of passion for gaming like Mac. You love to see these things,” Patricia explained. You love to see that and you always try to lead in a way that helps everyone get better in those moments, and that’s the main thing as a coach.
“But I’ve been through some pretty fiery guys, don’t forget. Teddy Brusky, Junior Seau, Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinest … were great players, and Mack is one of those guys who loves to play. So I love it. “
Other coaches of the Patriots’ staff shared a similar sentiment.
“In the heat of the game, you have to deal with a lot of emotions,” quarterbacks coach Joe Judge said. “Everyone comes out differently in terms of external abduction. This is [not] one way or another. You take one quarterback who seems more reserved and you say, “He doesn’t like the game.” You take one quarterback who has a lot of passion and say “he needs to calm down.” You can’t have it both ways. People have to be themselves, and you have to find a way to understand that as a coach, the best way to coach them and figure them out.”
“There’s passion, there’s fire, there’s competitiveness — I mean, I’d rather be that way than any other way. It doesn’t bother me at all,” tight ends coach Nick Keiley added. “I think everybody wants to go out there and compete at a high level … it’s good to have passion. It’s okay to care enough about where you’re competitive to want to go out there and be willing to break up after a fall. I don’t think too much about it. Again, I’d rather be like that than someone who doesn’t care, who doesn’t show any emotion or these traits. I don’t think much of it to be honest with you.”
With four games left on the Patriots’ schedule, New England needs every win they can get to stay in their current wild card spot. With those matchups coming up against the Raiders, Bengals, Dolphins and Bills, they need to start putting together the offensive side of the ball.