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Patriots offense still a model of stability despite Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, other personnel turnover

The Patriots stay intact where they have to.

Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Over the three months since winning Super Bowl 53, the New England Patriots saw considerable departures through all levels of their organization: from players leaving via free agency or retirement, to coaches joining other clubs, to off-field personnel jumping ship. The offensive side of the football was hit particularly hard, with some key pieces of the team’s 2018 championship squad exiting one way or another.

The biggest of them is, of course, tight end Rob Gronkowski. Coming off a statistical down-year that still ended in a productive postseason run and ultimately his third title, the future Hall of Famer decided to call it a career after nine record-breaking seasons. He is joined on the list of ex-Patriots by starting left tackle Trent Brown as well as rotational wide receivers Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson — all of whom left New England in free agency.

Furthermore, two assistant coaches also decided to end their tenures with the club: wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea will serve as the Miami Dolphins’ new offensive coordinator moving forward, with assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski joining him to serve in the same role. But despite their departures, and those of Gronkowski and company, the Patriots offense remains a model of stability in the NFL.

Three men are responsible for that. Head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels, and quarterback Tom Brady will all return for yet another season together — their twelfth season together, and eighth straight since McDaniels returned into the fold following his rather unsuccessful stints as head coach of the Denver Broncos and offensive coordinator of the then-St. Louis Rams.

The experience the three men share when it comes to working alongside each other is virtually unrivaled in the NFL. While Belichick and Brady are unquestioned in their respective roles, McDaniels is the second longest-tenured offensive coordinator in the league behind only the New Orleans Saints’ Pete Carmichael. Carmichael is entering his tenth straight season as the Saints’ offensive coordinator, but had to work under a different head coach in 2012 due to Sean Payton’s year-long suspension.

New Orleans’ offensive core, which also includes quarterback Drew Brees, is the only one with similar stability year-in and year-out as the Patriots. Behind the two teams is a sizable gap to the next longest-tenured top trio: Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn enters his third season working alongside offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and quarterback Philip Rivers. No other offense in the NFL has all three roles tied to the same persons for more than a year.

In fact, eight teams enter their 2019 campaigns with first-year head coaches at the helm. A staggering fifteen — almost half of the league — have new offensive signal callers in place. Meanwhile, up to five teams are expected to field new starting quarterbacks. Safe to say that turnover is the one constant in the NFL, but one the Patriots have successfully avoided at the three most important offensive spots.