The New England Patriots’ coaching staff remained mostly intact through the 2021 offseason, but there were still some changes compared to last season. Whether it was the recent departure of co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich, or the additions of assistants such as Matt Patricia or Evan Rothstein, there has been some personnel turnover over the last few weeks and months.
While the majority of the moves were already reported earlier during the offseason, the team did not announce the full staff until today: New England released its first media guide ahead of training camp, featuring a full list of the new-look coaching staff.
Let’s dig into it.
Belichick will start his 22nd training camp as New England’s head coach on Wednesday. His accolades are obviously unrivaled, but he will face a new challenge this summer: lay the foundation for first-round draft pick Mac Jones to become the Patriots’ quarterback of the future. Successfully transitioning into a post-Tom Brady era will silence a lot of Belichick’s doubters, who attribute New England’s success over the past two decades primarily to the greatest player in the league history and not its greatest coach.
Josh McDaniels: Offensive coordinator/Quarterbacks
Bo Hardegree: Quality control/Quarterbacks
Ivan Fears: Running backs
Vinnie Sunseri: Running backs
Mick Lombardi: Wide receivers
Troy Brown: Wide receivers/Kick returners
Nick Caley: Tight ends/Fullbacks
Carmen Bricillo: Offensive line
Cole Popovich: Offensive line*
Billy Yates: Assistant offensive line
*Popovich will not be with the team in 2021 and his inclusion appears to be more of a procedural move than anything else
The Patriots’ offensive staff is still led by Josh McDaniels, now in his 10th straight season as offensive coordinator. Based on his title it appears he will also take over quarterback coaching duties again after handing the role over to Jedd Fisch last season. With Fisch now head coach at Arizona, Bo Hardegree will work with the QBs as well this year — something already revealed by Brian Hoyer earlier this offseason.
As for the rest of the offensive staff, there are a few changes compared to 2020. One is obviously the departure of Popovich, with Billy Yates now assisting Carmen Bricillo. Furthermore, Troy Brown is back working with wide receivers after dipping his toes into the running back pool last year. Vinnie Sunseri has taken over his previous role as Ivan Fears’ right-hand man.
DeMarcus Covington: Defensive line
Steve Belichick: Outside linebackers
Jerod Mayo: Inside linebackers
Mike Pellegrino: Cornerbacks
Brian Belichick: Safeties
There have been no changes for the Patriots’ defensive staff compared to 2020. The most noteworthy development is therefore that the team will once again go without an official coordinator on this side of the ball. While former defensive play caller Matt Patricia was brought back into the fold following his three-year stint with the Detroit Lions, but he will help the coaches in another capacity.
Cam Achord: Special teams coordinator
Joe Houston: Special teams assistant
The Patriots had the best special teams unit in the NFL last season, and there is a realistic chance it will be among the best in the business yet again heading into 2021. Not only were core players such as Justin Bethel and Cody Davis retained in free agency, the coaching duo of Cam Achord and Joe Houston has also stayed intact for another year.
Strength and Conditioning
Moses Cabrera: Head strength and conditioning
Deron Mayo: Strength and conditioning assistant
There are no changes when it comes to the Patriots’ strength and conditioning staff. Moses Cabrera enters his sixth year at the job while Deron Mayo — brother of inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo — will assist him for the fourth year in a row. New England is usually among the best conditioned team in the league, and Cabrera and Mayo play a big role in this.
Matt Patricia: Senior football advisor
Evan Rothstein: Research and analysis/Coaching
Ross Douglas: NFL coaching fellowship/Defense
Matt Patricia and Evan Rothstein arrived earlier this offseason via the Detroit Lions, and their official titles leave plenty of room for interpretation. Patricia was spotted on the practice fields next to Bill Belichick in the spring, so he projects to serve as more of a coach than Rothstein. That said, he has been involved in various tasks since his return to New England so it will be fascinating to watch how Patricia’s role will develop.
As for Ross Douglas, he joined the Patriots on a coaching fellowship earlier this offseason after starting his coaching career at Rutgers.