New England Patriots Divide Offensive Play-Calling Duties Between Two Coordinators in Preseason Opener

by Bryan Fyalkowski

While the New England Patriots offense has shown some subpar performances throughout training camp, it put up a solid showing in the team’s first preseason game. Against the New York Giants on Thursday night, the Patriots scored 21 points and put up 308 total yards of offense in a two-point loss.

One thing many New England fans were curious about was how Joe Judge and Matt Patricia would handle working in tandem in play-calling duties. Head coach Bill Belichick did not choose one man to replace Josh McDaniels as coordinator – he hired two.

“I didn’t think it was a problem,” Belichick commented in a post-game interview, via ESPN. “I thought we were on the ball quickly and had plenty of time to operate. We had to audible a few times and were able to do that.”

He continued: “There’s plenty of room for improvement. I’m not saying we’re there yet, but getting there.”

Play-Calling Runs Smoothly Enough for New England Patriots

Starting quarterback Mac Jones was inactive for the game, so NFL veteran Brian Hoyer and rookie Bailey Zappe filled in. Hoyer went the first two series and led one touchdown drive. He completed 5-of-8 passes for 59 yards with a 124.5 rating. Zappe went the rest of the way, connecting on 19-of-32 attempts with one touchdown and one interception.

The 23-year-old rookie seemingly led the Patriots on a game-winning drive late in the game. Zappe hit wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey for a 20-yard touchdown with 4:51 remaining in the fourth quarter to put New England ahead 21-20.

But New York marched down the field and Graham Gano kicked a game-winning, 24-yard field goal as time expired. Hoyer also commented on the play-calling operation after the game.

“I just listened to my helmet and called the play that was said to me,” he said. “So whether it’s Matt or Joe or whoever it might be, I’m not concerned about [that]. I’m worried about what defense they’re running and how we’re going to execute the play.”