Matt Patricia’s stint as head coach of the Detroit Lions was a debacle, but his former team was happy to give him a new chance to reinvent himself and get his career back on track. The New England Patriots brought him in after he was fired by the Lions, and it seems as if he has taken on an active role behind the scenes since his return.
Head coach and general manager Bill Belichick, who held his annual pre-draft press conference on Thursday, spoke about Patricia’s part within the scouting process. Apparently, the Patriots’ former defensive coordinator has played a big part in it.
“Matt has rejoined us and has been heavily involved in the process,” said Belichick.
What exactly Patricia’s new gig with the Patriots entails is not public knowledge, but he has given plenty of assignments so far. The 46-year-old was brought in to assist the coaching staff but has also been involved in free agency and contract negotiations, at times even signing deals on the team’s behalf.
Patricia’s was only one of the names mentioned during Belichick’s press conference, though. He also spoke about three members of the scouting department who did some heavy lifting over the last few weeks and months.
“Dave Ziegler, Eliot Wolf and Matt Groh have really carried the ball on this. They’ve done a ton of work and their respective staffs that they oversee as well. In particular, those three guys have really done a tremendous amount work, evaluation, organization and have done a great job putting things together. It’s been great to spend a lot of time with them and go through the process,” said Belichick.
With the Patriots being forced to restructure their front office following the departure of Nick Caserio to the Houston Texans, the three men mentioned by Belichick appear to have taken on different roles compared to years past. Ziegler is the front-runner to replace Caserio as director of player personnel, while Wolf and Groh — working as scouting consultant and nationals scout last year — are candidates for promotions as well.
All three of them have been spotted on the scouting trail as well. Ziegler and Groh were present at Ohio State’s Pro Day earlier this week; Wolf watched the Buckeyes’ first workout as well as BYU’s; Groh was seen at North Dakota State as well.
What all of those events have in common is that they feature some of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft: Justin Fields (Ohio State), Zach Wilson (BYU) and Trey Lance (North Dakota State.
“The draft process has been a little bit different this year than it was last year. This year we didn’t have the Indianapolis combine but we did have some opportunities on Pro Days so that made it a little bit different, but in the end we’ve accumulated a lot of information,” said Belichick about the work New England’s scouting department has done so far.
“We will try to be as well-prepared as we possibly can heading into draft weekend and then see what our opportunities are and do the best we can to improve the team like we always do, same goal as every year.”
In order to achieve this goal, Belichick and the Patriots have relied extensively on Ziegler, Wolf and Groh — and, it seems, Matt Patricia as well.