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Retired Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia speaks highly of his successors

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Related: Patriots banking on continuity after Dante Scarnecchia’s retirement

Cleveland Browns v New Enlgand Patriots Photo by Timothy Bouwer/ISI Photos/Getty Images

When veteran offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia announced his first retirement following the 2013 season, the New England Patriots opted to look outside the organization for a replacement and found one in Dave DeGuglielmo. DeGuglielmo had instant success after joining the Patriots, and played a notable role in leading the team to a championship in 2014. Just one year later, however, he was let go again.

After a disappointing 2015 campaign that saw the offensive line struggle throughout the year and especially during a season-ending loss in the AFC title game, DeGuglielmo and the Patriots parted ways. Him leaving prompted Scarnecchia to return and add four more years — and two more Super Bowl wins — to his impressive coaching résumé. Earlier this offseason, however, he announced his second retirement from the NFL’s coaching ranks.

As opposed to six years ago, though, it seems as if New England is planning on filling his role internally: while no official announcements have been made just yet, all indications are that the Patriots will use former assistant coaches Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo in a joint role to help replace one of the best offensive line coaches the league has ever seen — a decision that Scarnecchia seems to welcome when based on some recent statements he made to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss.

“They’re both really good coaches and both really good people. Very, very smart guys. I know no one has been named, and there are reasons for that, but clearly those are the two guys that are going to do it, and I think they’ll do an outstanding job,” the 72-year-old said. “The other thing is they know the players. It’s not like they’re new, coming in from the outside. They’ve both been around there — especially Cole, who has been in the system for five years. Carm for one.”

Popovich, as Scarnecchia pointed out, has worked in New England for quite some time now: after originally joining the team as a coaching assistant in 2015 — a role he held for four years and one that saw him work with the offensive line quite a bit — he was promoted to assistant running backs coach under Ivan Fears last offseason. Now, it seems that he is moving back to the offensive line again to work alongside fellow assistant Bricillo.

Bricillo, meanwhile, arrived in Foxborough last offseason as a coaching assistant that worked closely alongside Scarnecchia over the course of the 2019 season. While his NFL experience is limited, the 43-year-old has an impressive track record, even though most of it comes from the collegiate ranks: before arriving in New England one year ago, Bricillo spent nine successful seasons coaching the offensive line at Youngstown State.

As for their predecessor, he continues to be busy even though his official tenure as a Patriots assistant coach ended in January.

“I helped with the scouting this year after I stepped away, and that was good,” Scarnecchia said. “I spent a lot of time going over most of the guys in the draft, and then when we started meeting on it — which was conference calls and all that — it was as tedious as it could possibly get and another reminder that this isn’t going to be easy for anyone. I contributed however I could, but by the draft, I was pretty much done with it all.”

“I’m doing great, as busy as I’ve ever been in my life. I do a thousand things around the yard, I’ve cut down a lot of trees and worked in my shop. Now that we’re home-schooling our grandkids half the time, I spend a lot of time with that. So I’m very, very, very busy in retirement,” he continued. “We do have plans to do things. We will travel in the future. We will do all the things we really like to do with our grandkids and our family. It will all be, as always, driven by that. Family first.”