Every offseason brings plenty of turnover in the NFL: from players joining new teams via free agency to rookies entering the league through the draft to coaching staffs getting turned over after disappointing seasons — the latter of which already being in full swing just a few hours into the so-called Black Monday. And even though the New England Patriots will not fire head coach Bill Belichick, their staff as a whole might still see some turnover the next few months.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is again a popular name on the coaching market, as is the Patriots’ de-facto defensive coordinator, Brian Flores. But while it would be a surprise to see Flores leave after only one season at the job, 2018 might very well turn out to be McDaniels’ final year as the leader of New England’s offense — a role he held for the last eight seasons and ten total over two separate stints.
If the highest paid assistant coach in the NFL indeed leaves the Patriots, the coaching staff might see some additional turnover as well. Assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski and special teams coordinator Joe Judge were seen as potential hires had McDaniels taken the Indianapolis Colts’ job in early 2018. Other coaches and scouts might also follow him in case the 42-year old leaves the Patriots this offseason.
One member of New England’s offensive staff will likely stay in place, though, no matter what happens with McDaniels: offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is expected to return in 2019. While there was no official statement put forward by the club regarding the soon-to-be 71-year old, a recent media appearance indirectly confirmed his intentions to return to the club next year (via WEEI).
Scarnecchia was asked this week about New England’s first-round draft pick Isaiah Wynn, who is currently on injured reserve after hurting his Achilles in preseason. “He’s in every meeting. He’s working hard to get better for the next year and so that’s what his job is right now,” the veteran coach praised the rookie before dropping the key hint about his future. “I am anxious to get out there with him in the spring and start again.”
Unless something drastically changes, Scarnecchia should be expected back next season for what would be his 33rd year with club. Over the course of his career in New England, he has served numerous roles — including interim head coach in 1992 — until settling in as offensive line coach in 2000. Scarnecchia has held the role ever since, with the exception of a two-year hiatus in 2014 and 2015.
He returned in 2016 and immediately helped the Patriots to a Super Bowl win, the fourth of his career. Scarnecchia also transformed a shaky unit into one of the NFL’s best again: this year, the Patriots’ line has surrendered just 21 sacks while also paving the way on 478 rushing attempts for 2,037 yards and 18 touchdowns — all top five in the league. And with Scarnecchia likely staying for another year, the group’s success should continue beyond 2018.
One way or another, Wynn will likely be a key part of it. “He’s not physically able to do things, but he is a bright kid,” said Scarnecchia about the 23rd overall selection of this year’s draft. “We hope for the best. We hope he can really help us.”