Before the madness that is free agency broke out, the Pats Pulpit staff started handing out its 2016 New England Patriots awards. Now that the frenzy has died down a little, there is time to go back and revisit a season that brought the Patriots their fifth Lombardi trophy.
Today’s installment honors the team’s assistant coach of the year.
Patriots Assistant Coach of the Year 2016: Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia
Midseason winner: Dante Scarnecchia
SlotMachinePlayer: Dante Scarnecchia
I don't know if he showed up with a whole case of "Michael Jordan's Secret Stuff" from Space Jam, but whatever he did worked.
Ryan Keiran (@Ryan_Keiran): Dante Scarnecchia
McDaniels was his usual self, for all that that means. Patricia led a great defense, but had some questionable scheme choices, especially early in the year (to his credit that improved as the year went on), but Scar completely turned around an offensive line that got destroyed last year and made it more than serviceable.
Brian Phillips (@b7phillips): Dante Scarnecchia
See: Marcus Cannon.
Rich Hill (@pp_rich_hill): Dante Scarnecchia
Scarnecchia helped turned around a bottom-of-the-barrel offensive line group to one of the best five lines in the NFL.
Michael McDermott (@MichaelMcD8393): Dante Scarnecchia
Took a talented, but underwhelming OL and turned it into a top 10 unit. There may be even more improvements in Year 2, with Thuney, Andrews, and Mason entering their 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd years in the NFL.
Oliver Thomas (@OliverBThomas): Dante Scarnecchia
Hard not to link Dante Scarnecchia’s return to Marcus Cannon’s turnaround. The Patriots had continuity along a front that was battling attrition and a rotation only a year ago, when both pass protection and the running game were symbiotically lacking. Scarnecchia played no small part in why both facets greatly improved this season.
Matthew Rewinski (@SomeCallMeGoose): Dante Scarnecchia
Scar basically came back from his extended vacation to find out someone had thrown a rager at his house and trashed the place, and all he did was whip up an offensive line good enough to protect the quarterback from a division where all three other teams have defensive lines ranging from stacked to beastly.
DMooreNFL (@DMooreNFL): Dante Scarnecchia
No doubt in my mind, Scar deserves the nod here. He came out of retirement and turned a porous offensive line into a top 10 in the matter of one season. He turned Marcus Cannon's career around and helped develop Joe Thuney. What a difference he made.
Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39): Matt Patricia
New England didn't face a ton of offensive firepower in the regular season, but they shut down the team's they should've, rather than playing down to their competition. Despite losing arguably his most valuable chess piece in Jamie Collins and facing heavy scrutiny from outsiders for his units perceived lack of energy and subpar play, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia finished the year with the league's top scoring defense. Besides, did you see how he clowns Goodell? Crown the man.
Kirk von Kreisler (@KirkNFL): Dante Scarnecchia
It’s easy to see that New England’s most improved unit from a season ago was their offensive line. The unit that had allowed Brady to be hit 20 times in the prior AFC Championship game had become one of the team’s strengths and there was a simple answer: Dante Scarnecchia. Scarnecchia had returned from two seasons retired to coach the offensive line and made one of the largest impacts on the team.
Bernd Buchmasser (@BerndBuchmasser): Dante Scarnecchia
Matt Patricia and his top-ranked defense deserve an honorable mention, as do Josh McDaniels and Jerry Schuplinski, who both worked with the Patriots’ three quarterbacks. When it comes to assistant of the year, though, the title goes to Dante Scarnecchia. While the unit consistently struggled in 2015, the return of Scarnecchia helped bring stability and quality coaching. Under his tutelage, Marcus Cannon grew into a stalwart right tackle, Joe Thuney became a promising left guard, and the unit as a whole turned into one of the best young offensive lines in the NFL.
What do you think of Dante Scarnecchia as the Patriots’ 2016 Assistant Coach of the Year? Let us know in the comments.