I know, I know, it’s hard for anyone outside of New England to care at all about what happens to New England moving forward. Six titles later, everyone is frothing at the mouth for the dynasty to finally come to an end.
The coaching departures that we have seen over the last week could be a sign that the end is coming.
The Brady-Belichick era has had a number of key characteristics. One of the most important has been impressive consistency among the coaching staff. with Bill Belichick at the top, there has been significantly less coaching turnover than most NFL teams experience, even among the coordinators and assistant coaches. The Patriots also have some longtime veterans along with Belichick, like offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and running backs coach Ivan Fears. Both Scar and Fears have been with the team since Belichick’s hiring.
New England’s coordinators have been relatively stable as well. Since Belichick took over at the turn of the century, the Patriots have only had three different offensive coordinators. Charlie Weis had the duty from 2000-2004, Bill O’Brien had it from 2009-2011, and Josh McDaniels had it from 2005-2008 and from 2012-now. The team’s defensive coordinators have been relatively stable as well, with only Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Dean Peas, Matt Patricia, and Brian Flores having the defensive signal caller duties over the last two decades.
(Some years, an offensive or defensive coordinator was not officially named, such as 2018 with Flores. I counted them because they were coordinators in all but name)
This stability has been one of the hallmarks of the Patriots success. Reducing the number of coaching changes in an organization can reduce system changes. This allows consistency year after year.
2019 may pose a new challenge for New England on this front. The day after the Super Bowl, the Dolphins announced the hiring of Flores as their new head coach. The bleeding did not stop there, as Flores poached a number of coaches from the Patriots:
– wide receiver coach Chad O’Shea was hired as offensive coordinator
– offensive assistant coach Jerry Schuplinski was hired as the Miami quarterbacks coach
– cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer was hired as the defensive pass game coordinator/cornerbacks coach under Flores
Flores also hired former Patriot receiver Tiquan Underwood as a quality control coach. While Underwood wasn’t an official member of the Patriots coaching staff, he did spend a lot of time around the team in recent years.
In addition to Flores’ thefts, Patriots defensive line coach Brenden Daly departed New England to join the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff.
This is an unusual number of losses for a Patriots coaching staff that is usually very consistent. It is not entirely unexpected; the team had a similar number of losses after the third Super Bowl win in the first part of the dynasty. Such is the curse of victory.
New England will have some coaching familiarity. Josh McDaniels will remain as the offensive coordinator. Bret Bielema, who worked with the defensive line throughout 2018, will likely take over Daly’s role. A number of other assistant coaches will also remain, including Steve Belichick who returns as safeties coach.
The question will be whether this much coaching turnover will have an effect on the team heading into 2019. The Patriots are loaded with veterans on both sides of the ball who are used to the coaches that have been around during this latest Super Bowl dynasty. Dealing with a new crop of coaches could lead to frustration and tension with a group of established champions. It will be interesting to see how Belichick handles this new dynamic when the season arrives.