Patriots-Giants Live: Matt Patricia and Joe Judge call plays in the Pats preseason opener

·8 min read

FOXBORO – When it comes to who will replace Josh McDaniels, there’s two ways to look at the Patriots preseason opener.

At this point, Matt Patricia is clearly the leader in the clubhouse. Perhaps, he’ll be the guy calling in plays to Mac Jones.  Of course, he could also be competing with Joe Judge for the job.

Both scenarios are plausible as both Patricia and Judge called offensive plays in the Patriots' preseason opener on Thursday night against the New York Giants.

“We did this game,” Bill Belichick said when asked about the two coaches calling plays.” We did a lot of things in this game that are going to be beneficial in the long run, whether it was on the coaching staff, playing time, players that played and so forth. That's all part of the process.”

Matt Patricia calling the plays

Patricia, the former Patriots defensive coordinator and Detroit Lions head coach, could be seen on the sideline with a headset and play sheet as soon as the Patriots offense took the field Thursday night. Although he stood next to quarterbacks coach Judge, who also had a headset and play sheet, it appeared that Patricia was the man calling the plays into Hoyer, who started the game.

This isn’t surprising since we’ve seen Patricia call most of the Patriots offensive plays this summer. Judge has had his hand in the play calling, but mainly during 7-on-7 drills when Patricia is coaching the offensive linemen. When full-team drills started, it was often Patricia calling plays. Bill Belichick has also called plays at times this offseason as well.

On Thursday, it appeared that Patricia was the man calling the plays. After the first series, Hoyer checked in with Patricia and Hoyer on the sideline. Then, the quarterbacks sat around Judge, who went over plays. At the same time, Patricia had the offensive linemen huddled around him looking at his tablet. Prior to the Patriots second drive, Hoyer checked in with Patricia and Judge before taking the field. Following the Patriots’ first scoring drive, Patricia met with the quarterbacks.

Of course, things with the Patriots are never that easy. After Hoyer came out of the game, and Bailey Zappe came on the field, Judge appeared to be the Patriots play caller. Judge, the Patriots former special teams coach and Giants head coach, called offensive plays for the rest of the night.

To make it more confusing, Belichick also checked in and talked with Patriots quarterbacks on Thursday night. It all sounds confusing, but it’s clear that the Patriots offense has three main voices with Patricia, Judge and Belichick.

“Yeah, don't worry about that. We'll work it out,” Belichick said when asked who will call plays in the regular season. “We're going through a process. Just like everything else on this team.”

Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots senior football advisor Matt Patricia coaches quarterback Mac Jones (10) at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots senior football advisor Matt Patricia coaches quarterback Mac Jones (10) at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots rookies have solid showing in preseason debut

Thursday night’s preseason opener was a chance for rookies to get a taste of what it will be like come Sundays this fall.

For the Patriots 2022 rookie class, it was an opportunity that they’ve always dreamed up. This offseason, several rookies have had strong training camps. We saw some of that hard work pay off in the Pats preseason loss to the Giants.

First-round pick Cole Strange started the contest at left guard, where he’ll start this season. He played the first two series of the game with Brian Hoyer. He said afterward he was happy with his performance and feels like he’s improved a lot this offseason.

“I guess in every way possible,” Strange said. “College a bunch of the times, coaches have pointed out to me, I would hesitate coming off the ball. I think because I was thinking – not all the time but every now and again you could see me doing that. That’s something I worked on. I feel my technique has gotten better just because we’ve been hammering the fundamentals. I feel like I’ve improved in that, too.”

Strange was on the field for the Patriots first touchdown of the night when fellow rookie Tyquan Thornton hauled in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Hoyer at the end of the first quarter. The second-round pick played most of the first half on Thursday and nearly had a 30-yard reception, but drew an illegal contact penalty on the play.

Thornton finished with two catches for nine yards and a touchdown.

New England Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (11) celebrates his touchdown, in front of New York Giants cornerback Aaron Robinson (33) during first half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
New England Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (11) celebrates his touchdown, in front of New York Giants cornerback Aaron Robinson (33) during first half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

When Hoyer was taken out of the game, after two series, Bailey Zappe took over and played the rest of the game. The fourth-round pick finished 19-of-32 to go with 205 yards with a touchdown and interception.

Fourth-round pick Jack Jones had some solid coverage on Thursday, finishing with a pass breakup. Sixth-round pick Sam Roberts also showed up multiple times with a few quarterback pressures.

Zappe said the rookies received a lot of help to prepare for their first preseason game.

“My coaches, my teammates helped me a lot throughout,” Zappe said. “We all helped each other out throughout this last week of practice trying to get us rookies used to the speed of the game, get ready for the preseason game. We had a bunch of good things happen this evening and a bunch of bad things or mistakes that we made, and we're going to correct those tomorrow and this next week.”

James White left a lasting legacy in New England

Matthew Slater can remember countless offensive meetings where a coach praised James White. It happened routinely.

Film would come on and the coach would remark, ‘if only we could do it like James.’ Whether it was route running, catching, running after the catch or finding hope holes, White was a coach’s favorite in New England.

When the running back announced his retirement on Thursday, however, that’s not the first thing that stuck out to Slater. Yes, White was a perfect Patriot, but teammates are lauding him for the man he was off the field.

“We all leave legacies one way or another. Some of us leave good ones. Some of us leave not so good ones. And some of us leave great legacies,” Slater said. “When I think about James White I think he left a tremendous, tremendous legacy here. Not just for what he did on the field. When I think about all the things we hope to embody here… James embodied all of that. It’s tough to say goodbye to someone like that. As he transitions to the next phase of his life, I certainly want to be one of the first people to celebrate the legacy that James White left here.

“He’s a true Patriot, but he’s a better human being. We’re all better for having been around him.”

FILE - New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty, left, running back James White, center, and defensive back Eric Rowe (25) laugh with a Super Bowl trophy during a rally Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, in Boston, to celebrate Sunday's 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game in Houston. James White said Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, he is retiring from the NFL. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
FILE - New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty, left, running back James White, center, and defensive back Eric Rowe (25) laugh with a Super Bowl trophy during a rally Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, in Boston, to celebrate Sunday's 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game in Houston. James White said Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, he is retiring from the NFL. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

A captain, White was quick to earn respect from his teammates after a slow rookie season in 2014. He exits the NFL with three Super Bowl records and several Patriots running back records. On top of that, he mentored countless younger players to come through Foxboro.

Damien Harris is one. White took him under his wing during Harris’ 2019 rookie season.

“He taught me a lot of things on the field, obviously, but he taught me how to be a pro,” Harris said. “He taught me how to be a man in this business, in this industry and I learned a ton of things from James. I’m definitely sad to see him go.”

The Patriots will have to replace White – the third-down back – but Harris said there’s no replacing who White was off the field and in the locker room.

“You can’t. James is a once in lifetime player, a once in a lifetime teammate,” Harris said. “James isn’t somebody you can replace. Unfortunately the show goes on. We’ll have to keep doing what we do and move forward. I wish James was still here and I wish him the best in the next phase of his life.”

Mac Jones to sit out NFL preseason opener

Welcome to the Patriots preseason opener against the New York Giants.

If you were hoping to see Mac Jones and the Pats new-look offense, you’re going to be disappointed. Jones isn’t expected to play during tonight’s preseason game. The same goes with most of the Patriots starters, according to ESPN.

This isn’t unheard of with Bill Belichick. The Patriots coach usually dials it back with his starters in the preseason. Historically, starting players play more in the second and third preseason games.

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New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones takes part in drills at the NFL football team's practice facility, Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones takes part in drills at the NFL football team's practice facility, Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass.

Practice games with Panthers, Raiders

Last year, however, starters played in all three preseason games. One reason behind the change this year could be due to joint practices. Belichick will see his starters perform against the Carolina Panthers in two practices next week and then in two practices against the Las Vegas Raiders the week after that. Both joint practice sessions lead up to exhibition games, but Belichick has favored the practices over preseason games of late.

Stay tuned as we’ll have you updated with all things Patriots before, during and after tonight’s contest.

Game time

7 p.m., NY Giants-New England (preseason), 98.5 FM, Patriots.com

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This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: NFL preseason: New York Giants at New England Patriots: LIve updates