New England Patriots' Bill Belichick says splitting of playcalls for Matt Patricia, Joe Judge not rooted in competition

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After having assistants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge split offensive playcalling duties in the team's preseason opener last week, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday that the decision wasn't based on a competition between them.

"That doesn't have anything to do with it," he said.

After the Patriots' 23-21 loss to the New York Giants on Thursday, Belichick had described the situation as part of the team "going through a process."

When asked to elaborate on the process Monday, Belichick turned a bit sarcastic, saying, "We don't have time for that. I appreciate the question, I really do. I know how interested you are in that subject, and I'd love to be able to shed more light on it. But honestly it's a much longer conversation."

Belichick hasn't named an official offensive coordinator to replace Josh McDaniels, who is now serving as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Patricia and Judge have been leading the offense in practice; Patricia's official title is senior football adviser/offensive line, while Judge's is offensive assistant/quarterbacks.

In the preseason opener, Patricia called plays for the first two series when veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer was in the game. Then Judge took over when rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe entered.

While the Patriots burned one timeout late in the first quarter, veteran offensive tackle Trent Brown shared his viewpoint that everything looked "pretty smooth" when Patricia was calling plays.

On Monday, Patricia described the overall situation as "collaborative" and noted: "We follow Coach Belichick's lead. We're 100 percent just trying to make sure that we do everything possible as coaches to allow our players to go do everything they can on the field. That's what's important, not the rest of it."

Added Judge: "The assistant coach's job is to make the head coach happy. He has a vision for his team. It's our job to listen and to go out and execute the way he sees it. As far as defined roles, or whatever it may be, I come to work with one simple policy -- whatever he says, goes. My job is to do whatever he says to the best of my ability to get the players playing better."

The unique coaching arrangement has piqued curiosity in some NFL circles, in part because Patricia's primary background as a coach has been on defense, while Judge's is on special teams. But Belichick has made the point that both Patricia and Judge were involved with offense in their previous jobs as Detroit Lions head coach and Giants head coach, respectively.

The Patriots have promising second-year quarterback Mac Jones, and the coaching changes have been accompanied by significant alterations to the team's offense that several players acknowledge have come with "growing pains."

"It's been a lot of change for all of us," longtime center and captain David Andrews said Monday. "I think a lot of guys are really trying to figure it out and embrace what we're trying to do."