The New England Patriots being secretive about coaching titles is nothing new, and yet 2022 feels a bit different. After all, the team lost a significant portion of assistant coaches on the offensive side of the ball: four of them — including coordinator Josh McDaniels — departed for the Las Vegas Raiders, with long-time running backs coach Ivan Fears expected to announce his retirement soon.
How those four will be replaced remains to be seen. Based on the available information, however, we can take some educated guesses and predict what New England’s staff will look like ini 2022.
Head coach: Bill Belichick. Belichick’s standing atop the coaching staff is not in question even with his 70th birthday in the rear-view mirror. The only uncertainty is how big his involvement on either side of the ball will be without any official coordinators announced.
Offensive assistant/Quarterbacks: Joe Judge. On Monday, Judge confirmed that he will be working with the Patriots’ quarterbacks and the skill position personnel this season. It appears that the former special teams coach will be heavily involved on the offensive side of the ball — maybe even to a point where the title of “passing game coordinator” might be in play. Regardless of title, though, New England puts a lot of trust in Judge.
Running backs: Vinnie Sunseri. Serving as Ivan Fears’ assistant a year ago, Sunseri appears to be next in line to work with the position group in 2022. Fears has not yet made his retirement official, but once he does the expectation is that his former assistant will take over.
Wide receivers/Kick returners: Troy Brown. With Mick Lombardi joining Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas, the Patriots are expected to elevate Troy Brown to the wide receiver position. He already worked with the position group last year, so that transition will be a natural one.
Assistant wide receivers: Ross Douglas. Brown taking over main responsibility for the wideouts has led to former defensive assistant Ross Douglas moving to offense. Whether or not his title will be “wide receivers coach” or “assistant wide receivers coach” remains to be seen, but it would not be a surprise to see him be the 1B at the position behind the more experienced Brown.
Tight ends: Nick Caley. Tight end is the only offensive position group not seeing any changes. Nick Caley will work with Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith and company again this year. That said, he is a potential candidate to be elevated to the offensive coordinator role at one point in the future.
Offensive line: Billy Yates. Carmen Bricillo is now with the Raiders, opening the door for his former assistant to receive a promotion. Yates is coming off his second season on the team’s staff — he served in an assistant role under the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship — but he has plenty of experience both as a former player and an assistant coach.
Offensive assistant/Offensive line: Matt Patricia. The other mystery man on the Patriots’ offensive staff, Matt Patricia will be working with the offensive line in 2022. This does not mean he will be the one to succeed Bricillo, but that he will help coach the position group alongside Yates. Time will tell how comprehensive the job will be, especially considering that Patricia still appears to handle other responsibilities as well.
Defensive line: DeMarcus Covington. No changes are expected to happen along the defensive line. The 33-year-old Covington is entering his sixth season in New England and third working with the D-linemen.
Inside linebackers: Jerod Mayo. Despite receiving some head coaching interest this offseason, Mayo stayed put for 2022. The belief is that he will continue working with the inside linebackers and play a notable role as a de facto do-defensive coordinator alongside Steve Belichick. Who knows, maybe he even gets the official title this year?
Outside linebackers: Steve Belichick. The head coach’s oldest son will serve in a dual role yet again. He will coach the outside linebackers and simultaneously call plays. Belichick and Jerod Mayo will be the top coaches on the defensive staff, and be heavily involved in the game-planning process
Cornerbacks: Mike Pellegrino. Pellegrino has coached New England’s cornerbacks the last three years and was responsible for a position group that was among the best in the NFL. It may be in a process of change now, but the 28-year-old is still the one leading the charge.
Safeties: Brian Belichick. The youngest Belichick on the team’s staff has been coaching safeties since 2020, and it appears he will continue to do so this year as well. He has been on the team’s staff since 2016.
Special teams coordinator: Cam Achord. While the were uncharacteristically sloppy on special teams in 2021, the team kept Achord in the fold. Will the decision pay dividends and New England’s kicking game return to its usual high levels of play? That will be seen and possibly decide Achord’s future with the organization.
Assistant special teams: Joe Houston. Houston is entering his third season as Cam Achord’s assistant. Like projected running backs coach Vinnie Sunseri, he joined the team from the University of Alabama.
As noted above, the titles and responsibilities listed here are merely a projection. That said, given what we know about the Patriots operate it seems likely that this is what the staff will eventually look like in 2022.
The biggest question is whether or not coordinators will be named on either side of the ball. If so, a Joe Judge/Matt Patricia combo would make sense on offense; the same is true for Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick on defense.