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‘It’s like a defensive guy is calling offense’: Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph takes jab at Patriots’ play-calling

Under the tutelage of Matt Patricia (right) and Joe Judge, the Patriots offense remains a work in progress.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — Vance Joseph might have been going for some quick laughs with his blunt comments about the Patriots’ offense this week, but it’s likely nobody at One Patriot Place is laughing.

The Cardinals’ defensive coordinator described New England’s passing attack as “very conservative” and said, “It’s like a defensive guy is calling offense.” Joseph’s words, uttered through chuckles, seemed to be a subtle shot at Matt Patricia, who has been the point person sending plays into Mac Jones’s helmet this season.

“I see an offense that’s running the ball well. It’s a very conservative pass game. Lots of screens. All kinds of screens. It’s like a defensive guy is calling offense,” Joseph said with a laugh, which triggered accompanying laughs from the media. “It’s how a defensive guy is calling offensive plays, right? Let’s not turn the ball over. Let’s get 4 yards and try to burn clock. That’s what they’re doing. That’s what he’s going to do on Monday night.”

Asked about Joseph’s comments Friday, Bill Belichick first said, “Whatever [Joseph] said, he said, so ask him about it,” but later expanded his thoughts when asked if he ever noticed if coaches with defensive backgrounds are noticeably more conservative when they switch to the offensive side.


“I can’t think of any offensive coach that I have ever talked to that has been in favor of turning the ball over. So, let’s start with that,” the Patriots coach said. “Every coach who’s involved in offense is always in favor of scoring points. So, score points and don’t turn the ball over, I mean, that’s a good place to start. Then there’s a lot of things that come after that. In the end, I mean, I doubt if you could tell me what the record of time of possession is this year in the league, right? Like, you wouldn’t be able to tell me, ‘These teams had X-time of possession, they won, they lost.’ That’s not really [at the top of the list], turnovers, points, those are the two at the top of the list.’’


Holy Cross connection

Belichick will be rooting for Holy Cross when it takes on South Dakota State in the FCS quarterfinals Saturday. Belichick, whose daughter, Amanda, is the Crusaders’ women’s lacrosse coach, has developed a friendship with football coach Bob Chesney.

“He’s a great friend, I really have a lot of respect for the job he’s done with their program. He visited here in training camp, and I stay in touch with him,” said Belichick, noting how the 12-0 Crusaders have won four straight Patriot League titles. “So, pulling for the Crusaders. It’s a big opportunity for them.”

Belichick said he’d be keeping an eye on the Army-Navy game, as well. “That’s a big one,” he said.

Trent Brown practices

The Patriots received some good news on the participation front with left tackle Trent Brown returning to practice after battling an illness for a little more than a week.

Brown has started 11 of 12 games and when he’s 100 percent, the 6-foot-8-inch, 380-pounder is one of the NFL’s top blockers in both pass protection and the run game. Though he went the distance against the Bills Dec. 1, he was clearly feeling the effects of the illness.

Brown’s return is a boost for a tackle group that has been hurting. Isaiah Wynn missed practice with a foot injury, while Yodny Cajuste (back/calf) was a limited participant for the second straight day. Conor McDermott, who was signed Nov. 22 and played right tackle against Buffalo, is the only tackle not on the injury report.


Jakobi Meyers (concussion), who leads the team with 593 receiving yards, Damien Harris (thigh), the second-leading rusher (383 yards), and Jalen Mills (groin), who has two interceptions and five passes defensed, also missed practice.

World Cup fever

Count Belichick, a proud Croatian, among those thrilled with Friday’s upset of Brazil at the World Cup. “How about that?” he said with a smile … Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury was a 2003 Patriots draft pick and Belichick described his former player’s coaching style as “aggressive. He sees the game through the quarterback’s eyes.” … There are some strong UMass connections on the Cardinals staff. Co-pass game coordinator Spencer Whipple was on the Minutemen staff from 2014-18. His father, Mark, had two stints as UMass’s head coach. UMass alums Chris Culmer and Ryan Gold work in Arizona’s scouting department … The Patriots will fly to Phoenix after practicing Saturday.

Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.