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Is Bret Bielema the Patriots’ next defensive coordinator?

Arkansas v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With Super Bowl 53 likely being the last game that de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores will coach for the Patriots, speculation as to who will fill the lead role on New England’s defensive coaching staff has led to a variety of possibilities. An internal promotion? Greg Schiano? Perhaps Bill Belichick would simply take over defensive play-calling responsibilities?

According to The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, Bret Bielema thinks it will be him, and he “has been telling people that he is going to become the Patriots’ defensive coordinator”.

Bielema, who was brought onto the Patriots’ coaching staff last offseason and given the title “consultant to the head coach”, would certainly be a surprise, given his lack of time with the organization.

Bielema began his collegiate coaching career at Iowa — his alma mater. He was a member of Kirk Ferentz’s defense staff for the Belichick disciple's first two seasons with the Hawkeyes before heading taking defensive coordinator positions at Kansas State, and eventually Wisconsin. Following Barry Alvarez’s departure in 2005, he became the Badgers’ head coach — a position he remained in until 2012. After a five-year stint as the head coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks, Bielema was brought on board by Belichick.

Aside from his lack of experience with New England, two aspects of Volin’s report are interesting.

  1. With such an advanced knowledge of how Bill Belichick runs the Patriots organization, it’s a wonder how someone on the verge of such a promotion would begin telling people about it before an official announcement. Of course, much of that depends on the validity of Volin’s information — but it’s an interesting component nonetheless.
  2. Bill Belichick and Bret Bielema share the same agent: Neil Cornrich. Cornrich has a robust portfolio of collegiate and NFL coaches, as well as former and current players — including current Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers.

The Patriots don’t put much stock in official titles, and with it being Super Bowl week, we obviously wouldn’t expect any comment from the team with regard to their staffing next season.

Follow Brian Phillips — @BPhillips_SB