The New England Patriots’ coaching carousel continues to take turns. After the team already lost five members of its 2018 staff during the week after the Patriots’ victory in Super Bowl 53, a sixth will reportedly also work elsewhere next season: according to the Daily Chronicle’s Kaleb Carter, offensive assistant Atif Austin is expected to join Northern Illinois as its new running backs coach.
Austin originally was hired by the Patriots last May after spending the previous four years as North Dakota State’s wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator; he also was responsible for recruiting high school players from his home state of Florida. In New England, his primary job was to assist running backs coach Ivan Fears — and to help first-round rookie running back Sony Michel make the transition to the NFL.
With New England’s coaching staff recently undergoing significant turnover — wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea and assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schupliski both joined Patriots de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores with the Miami Dolphins — a bigger role for Austin appeared to be in the cards. It would not have been a surprise to see him fill O’Shea’s role in working with the wide receivers.
However, his journey appears to take him elsewhere after only one season in Foxboro. How or if his spot on the team will be filled remains to be seen, but New England has reportedly already brought two offensive coaches in: both former New York Jets assistant quarterbacks coach Mick Lombardi and ex-Youngstown State offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo will join the team. While Lombardi’s role has yet to be announced, Bricillo is expected to serve as an offensive assistant working primarily with the offensive line.