Boston.com readers have chosen who gets the credit for the Patriots return to the playoffs this season — and their responses may not come as a surprise.
After the New England Patriots clinched a playoff berth following their win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17, we asked readers who they thought was responsible for the Pats success this season and their path to the playoffs.
The 60 responses from readers were overwhelmingly in favor of longtime head coach Bill Belichick and his coaching staff, most notably offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
‘Credit Belichick and all the coaches’
Coach Belichick has long been credited for much of the Patriots’ and his quarterbacks’ successes over the years, along with his defensive prowess. The coach has been praised by competitor and commentator alike throughout his career and this season is no different — even his old rival Rex Ryan praised his performance in 2021.
“Belichick because he drafted Jones, brought in talent in free agency, drafted Barmore to improve defense and then coached these players to become a team that plays above their talent,” Alan P. in Deerfield wrote. Mary B. in Ipswich also voted for Belichick and wrote, “Any of the heroes on this team are there because he saw something in them, and coached out their potential.”
This season we watched the Patriots get off to a rocky 2-4 start and finish with a 10-7 record. On Saturday, they’ll be limping into the playoffs on the heels of a loss to the Miami Dolphins in their regular season finale.
“In the beginning of the year the team played sloppy football. Bad penalties, turnovers, stupid mistakes,” John in Wilbraham wrote. “As soon as that got cleaned up, they started winning. Credit Belichick and all the coaches for getting the team on the same page and playing winning football.”
Allan W. from Hilton Head Island, S.C. (formerly Pepperell, Mass.) agreed with crediting Belichick. “Coach reinforced the defense with Judon, Van Noy, Barmore and Philips which is making everybody better. Coach got a QB who is accurate and follows the game plan and supplied some receivers like Henry who can catch. This opens up opportunities for Jacoby Meyers and the running backs.”
The former Pepperell resident is confident about the Pats playoff run with Belichick saying, “Coach can out game plan most of his opponents and the team is well-positioned for the playoff run.”
Josh McDaniels was also named by a reader among coaches to credit. The Patriots longtime offensive coordinator has been on the coaching staff in various roles for all six Super Bowl wins.
“Josh McDaniels for bringing Mac Jones along slowly, carefully, and deliberately. It appears to be not so much game-to-game planning, but, rather, a singular arc that spanned the entire regular season,” Dick H. in Holden wrote.
‘Football is a team sport’
However, while most other respondents gave some credit to Belichick, they also named the team as a whole for being the reason that the Patriots are playing later into January this season, especially the defense and the play of rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
“All three. Significant improvement on offense and defense, and coach Belichick brought in immediately contributing players from the draft and free agency. Mac Jones is a quality QB who will continue to improve the team as he gains more experience. The soul of this team continues to be the defense,” Paul H. in Princeton wrote.
“Football is a team sport. It takes 22 men on the football field on both sides of the ball to work together, and the many coaches on the sideline to put them in the right positions to succeed. The defense has had bad games, and the offense has as well. I think it would be very unfair to give any one person the credit,” Christian L. in Chicopee wrote. “Give credit to the WHOLE team and coaching staff for building chemistry and putting together another playoff appearance season! GO PATS!”
One fan even includes additional credit to the divine.
Richard O. in Nahant wrote, “God, Billy, and Great Defense, and Mac [have] been solid!”
The Patriots will play the Buffalo Bills on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 8:15 p.m. in an AFC Wild Card game.