Bill Belichick Took Savage Shot at Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia in Falcons Interview

Aug 26, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) shakes
Aug 26, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) shakes / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With plenty to unpack from ESPN's bombshell report by Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Jeremy Fowler from Wednesday morning, one (maybe not so subtle) shot by Bill Belichick at his former assistant coaches could have been easily lost in the fold.

Out of the seven vacancies (sans the Patriots) that were filled this offseason, Belichick was most heavily linked to the Atlanta Falcons gig, a job he reportedly thought he had in the bag until the Falcons moved forward with Raheem Morris. Belichick interviewed twice with Atlanta, including a one-on-one with owner Arthur Blank and an additional meeting with Blank and other Falcons' team executives at Blank's home.

During one of these meetings, Belichick was (rightfully) questioned on why so many of his former assistant coaches had struggled as head coaches. The most prevalent examples of such assistants who crashed and burned once placed in charge are Josh McDaniels, Joe Judge, and Matt Patricia. Belichick had a pretty scathing rationale for their failure:

"The executives also were concerned about the staff Belichick would bring with him, including assistants who had worked with him in New England and who had struggled on their own: Josh McDaniels, Joe Judge, Jack Easterby, Matt Patricia. At one point, Blank asked Belichick why his charges had failed elsewhere. Belichick replied that he thought they were better soldiers than generals."

ESPN Report

The lack of success by Belichick's former assistants-turned-head coaches has always been a fair criticism, but comes as a damning development for Belichick himself to make that comment (even if the comments were made behind closed doors).

McDaniels, a long-time Patriots offensive coordinator, had two separate head coaching stints, both of which saw him fired in his second season. From 2009-10, he compiled a 11-17 record with the Denver Broncos and was sent packing in December 2010 after a 3-9 start. Following his firing from the Broncos, McDaniels would return to New England for another decade as the team's offensive coordinator.

McDaniels got a second shot with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022 (after leaving the Indianapolis Colts at the altar in 2018), but round two did not fare much better. After a 9-16 start to his Raiders career, McDaniels was canned on Halloween 2023, a firing that the Las Vegas players treated essentially as a liberation. In the NFLPA player survey released in February, McDaniels was the lowest-rated head coach in the entire league.

Joe Judge went 10-23 as the head coach of the New York Giants from 2020-21, while Matt Patricia Patricia recorded a 13-29-1 across three seasons with the Detroit Lions. Both Judge and Patricia would return back to New England "as soldiers" following their disastrous head coaching stints, and were bizarrely put in charge of the offense upon their return, despite little to no experience on that side of the ball.

Regardless about how he feels about his former "soldiers", Belichick won't have to worry about assembling any soldiers after coming up jobless for 2024.

In other Patriots news: