Who takes over at key positional positions?
The Patriots continue their shake up with their coaching staff as Linebackers coach Patrick Graham has been signed by the New York Giants as their defensive line coach. It was an interesting item as it was in reality a lateral transfer and not a promotion. Graham had been rumored to be the defensive coordinator in-waiting, as the top candidate to replace Matt Patricia if he took a head coaching position.
That brings the count to three coaches who either left on their own this week or were not retained when their contracts came up. OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo was the first to be let go. The Patriots offensive line suffered a ton of injuries and the turnover there was incredible. The team used five different left tackles in 2015 and had 13 different line combinations.
The team also didn’t renew the contract of Strength and Conditioning Coach Harold Nash this week effectively ending his tenure with the team. The Patriots suffered an exorbitant amount of injuries in 2015 with 21 players placed on IR. The injury list continued to be long with the questionable players for the AFC Championship Game numbering 16. Something had to give and Nash was a kind of easy target this offseason.
The Patriots front office has also lost three key members, the Lions hired Bob Quinn as their new General Manager a few weeks ago and he poached the Patriots Director of Player Development Kevin Anderson to be the Lions Head of Football Operations.
Yesterday it was learned that the team will be looking for a new Medical Director as team doctor Matt Provencher resigned his post as the Chief of Sports Medicine at Mass General Hospital. Citing family considerations, Provencher is moving on from Mass General and the Patriots and is taking a position with the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.
So where does the team go from here in regards to the coaching staff? The front office jobs are usually done from promotions within the ranks and that will probably be the case again but for the coaches, that may be the case as well.
Who Rights the Ship for the OL: The Patriots offensive line may not be as bad off as what the conventional wisdom is speculating. Did they underperform this season? Yes absolutely, but given the constant carousel of players due to injuries and as a result forcing three rookies to start immediately didn’t help matters.
They need a veteran upgrade inside where Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson are still looked at as the future there. With Ryan Wendell returning and free agency around the corner, this should play itself out quickly. At tackle with Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer returning, they need to re-sign LaAdrian Waddle and perhaps pick-up a vet free agent. There will be some good ones available.
Brian Daboll the current tight end coach would be the obvious coach to fill in as the new offensive line head. He’s a trusted member of the staff who has already filled in at plenty of different areas of responsibility.
He’s also the coach who many have penciled in as the next Offensive Coordinator if current OC Josh McDaniels takes another head coaching position elsewhere. Working with the tight ends, he already has a lot of insight in the OL issues, strengths and weaknesses. Some other names that bear watching include:
Brian Ferentz the current offensive line coach at Iowa under his father, head coach and Bill Belichick confidante Kirk Ferentz. The younger Ferentz got his start with Belichick and the Patriots as a coaching assistant before becoming the tight ends coach for New England in 2010-11.
Ferentz has the background and pedigree that could immediately vault him right back into the professional coaching ranks. Whether or not he wants to leave Iowa and his father is a matter that would have to be addressed.
Rick Trickett is a total shot in the dark but he’s a very intriguing option. Trickett has been in the college coaching ranks tutoring offensive linemen for 30 years with various stops along the way. He’s been the OL coach at Florida State since 2007.
What makes him so enticing is that he and former Patriots OL Coach Dante Scarnecchia are very close and share many of the same viewpoints about offensive line play and evaluating players. They even speak similar, if you’ve ever heard the blunt and to-the-point Scarnecchia speak, Trickett is very similar.
Scar has spent a lot of time at FSU scouting prior to the draft and the Patriots have two of Trickett’s former players in center Bryan Stork and guard Tre’ Jackson now on the team. Whether or not they could entice him to leave the college ranks is another subject.
With Nash out at Strength and Conditioning, the obvious choice is his assistant Moses Cabrera. While he hasn’t been asked yet, it would seem a logical choice to name him as Nash’s successor and promote from within.
Replacing Patrick Graham as the team’s linebacker coach will be an interesting choice. Could the team choose no one and let defensive coordinator Matt Patricia handle that as an added duty? While not out of the realm of possibility, they’ll probably fill that. Two names to throw out there include:
Steve Belichick, Bill’s son has been a coaching assistant with the team and this may be his time to step up and take on some added responsibility. Having his father’s background coaching defense, the younger Belichick may be a dark horse candidate, but a great choice to fill the role.
He’d also have immediate respect within the locker room due to his pedigree. He’s been earning his way up the ranks as an assistant thus far. And the head coach may decide that it is time for him to add the additional responsibility.
Mike Vrabel, another total shot in the dark here, as Vrabel already holds a similar position with the Houston Texans. So Belichick would have to sweeten the deal and give him the added title of Assistant Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach to pull him out of Texas.
But with Patricia also the subject of Head Coaching rumors, bringing back Vrabel makes sense as he too has been offered the DC position with the 49ers but declined. Belichick has always admired Vrabel for his intelligence, and he was one of his favorite players in his tenure here.
Knowing the system and Belichick is a bonus and he’d be a very logical choice as the next defensive coordinator once Patricia gets his shot at a head coaching job. Could Belichick entice him away from Bill O’Brien? That would be a great addition.
The Patriots are hardly in uncharted waters here, the team is quite used to Bill Belichick’s staff being raided during the off-season, and this one like the others, will be handled, mainly from within as has been his modus operandi. But who fills these positions will bear watching.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 NFL Season 2015 Patriots 2015 Patriots Season 2016 NFL off-season Bill Belichick Brian Daboll Brian Ferentz Dave DeGuglielmo Harold Nash Josh McDaniels Kirk Ferentz Matt Patricia Mike Vrabel Moses Cabrera New England Patriots NFL Patrick Graham Patriots Patriots coaching changes Rick Trickett Steve Belichick