The 2020 offseason was one of change for the New England Patriots, and the coaching staff was not immune to it either.
One of the coaches to leave the organization was Bret Bielema, who had worked with the defensive line in 2019. With Bielema gone, the Patriots were forced to adapt and rearrange the roles on their defensive staff — a process that resulted in DeMarcus Covington taking over the D-line after having spent the previous year as New England’s outside linebackers coach (a title that is now held by ex-safeties/secondary coach Steve Belichick).
The 31-year-old may be new to the role, but the first impression he left on the unit’s most senior player appears to be a positive one: Lawrence Guy, who is entering his fourth season in the system, spoke about his new position coach during a media conference call on Monday.
Based on his statements, the veteran defensive tackle seems to be impressed with Covington’s knowledge and the unique perspective he brings to the table.
“He’s really good,” Guy said about Covington during the short press session. “I think we have a good coaching staff, everybody brings their own unique way of coaching to the staff. It’s one of those things as we’re in this process through virtual meetings up to now, we’re building this brotherhood. We will see how we interact with each other, how he interacts with the D-line, how he interacts with the linebackers.”
Covington’s coaching career started back in 2012, when he worked as a graduate assistant at Alabama-Birmingham. Over the years that followed, he added stints at Mississippi, UT Martin and Eastern Illinois before finally arriving in New England in 2017 — the same year as Guy. Originally serving as a coaching assistant whose focus was primarily on the defensive side of the ball, he was promoted to outside linebackers coach in 2019 before eventually taking on a new role this year.
“Coming in, working with us, then working with the linebackers last year, now bringing all that knowledge he has from that aspect down to the D-line, it helps us see some of the bigger picture more and more,” the 30-year-old defender continued. “Some of the questions that we have asked, he could easily answer: ‘This is what we were coaching last year; and this technique; this is how we developed it this way.’
“It brings out a unique aspect that he’s able to share, after where he was coaching last year. He doesn’t have to go over there, ‘What would you say? How would you play that?’ He’s in the room helping us out with those situations,” added Guy.
Besides his knowledge of the linebacker concepts, Covington’s transition to defensive line coach will also be aided by the general continuity at the position. While the rest of the Patriots’ front-seven saw some considerable personnel turnover since the 2019 season came to an end — none of the team’s top three linebackers from last year will be available in 2020, for example — the group up front remained mostly intact.
Lawrence Guy is returning as its elder statesmen, with Adam Butler also entering his fourth year as a Patriot. The two roster locks are joined by offseason addition Beau Allen, who is expected to effectively replace free agency departee Danny Shelton, as well as Deatrich Wise Jr, Byron Cowart, Nick Thurman and Bill Murray. Only Allen and the undrafted rookie Murray were not in New England last year.