The New England Patriots are expected to lose coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia to the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions, respectively, over the offseason as they’ll embark on the next chapter of their careers as head coaches.
But where does this leave the Patriots? This isn’t the first time Bill Belichick will have to replace a coordinator and it’s not the first he’ll have to replace both at the same time- Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis left together in 2005 after winning three out of four Super Bowls.
So how will Belichick do it again?
“In any decision that involves personnel on the team I always try to do what’s best for the football team,” Belichick explained about filling the potential coordinator vacancies. “That’s what goes into it. There could be a thousand things, so if you’re signing a player, drafting a player, however you acquire a player, or coach, or a scout, or an administrative position then I always try to think of what’s the best thing for the football team.”
“Every situation is different,” Belichick added. “All people are different. Everybody has their own personality, strengths, weaknesses and so forth. There’s no two players that are the same. There’s no two people that are the same. I mean, we have identical twins on the team [Jacob Hollister and Cody Hollister] and they’re not the same. It just depends on each individual situation and what the circumstances are on the team and who the people are that are available. In the end, what I always try to do is what I think is best for the football team.”
Belichick continued the interview with a quippy comeback by saying, “I know that’s hard for some people to understand why I would [do what’s best for the team], but that’s the only way I can really put it into any kind of context.”
While this might sound like a typical Belichick non-answer, there is some value to the response. Perhaps promoting linebackers coach Brian Flores is the best direction for the team, or maybe cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer gets the nod if Flores leaves for the Arizona Cardinals. Maybe wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea will be the next offensive coordinator, or maybe it’ll be assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski.
Or maybe they’ll move forward like the 2009 Patriots without an offensive coordinator, or the 2011 Patriots without a defensive coordinator, or the 2010 Patriots when they didn’t have either coordinator.
What do the Patriots need at this point in time? Which coaches are ready to step into the spotlight?
The Patriots have invested a lot of capital on their defense with Trey Flowers and Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise on their defensive front, Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower at linebacker, and Stephon Gilmore and Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon in the secondary. There’s no true weakness and that’s why Brian Flores would be perfect to ascend to the defensive coordinator position the day Patricia moves to Detroit.
But that also means that this is a unit built to win now and can’t afford to wait on a young coaching staff to develop. So maybe that would involve bringing in a veteran coach as there would be a dearth of coaching experience on that side of the football.
On the offensive side, O’Shea made the playcalls in the fourth preseason game so he’s the expected heir, but he’s only been a wide receiver coach his entire career. Maybe Belichick would want to withhold the title for a season until O’Shea is ready to take on larger responsibilities. O’Shea has been with the Patriots since 2009, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him receive the offensive coordinator title in his tenth season with the team.