In a sudden move that shocked fans and coaches alike, new Patriots’ defensive coordinator Greg Schiano announced that he was stepping away from the position. His reasons were murky, but the former NFL head coach stated he needed time to be with his family and faith. Bill Belichick, a close friend of Schiano, has wished him all the best. However, the counter goes back to square one as New England once again begins the search for a new defensive coordinator.
The Patriots find themselves in a familiar situation, as defensive coordinator, Brian Flores accepted the head coaching position for the Miami Dolphins after helping the Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl Championship earlier this year. Flores, an incredibly wise coach for his years with a defensive background, was able to reach most players’ potential on the Pats’ defense this year, as his coaching assisted the Patriots in shutting out the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half of this year’s AFC Championship game. The New England defense also stymied the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl, holding them to three points.
New England went through the same fiasco the previous offseason, as longtime defensive coordinator Matt Patricia accepted a role with the Detroit Lions to become their head coach. Patricia’s tenure ended in opposite fashion compared to Flores’, as the Patriots gave up over 40 points to the Eagles in the previous years’ Super Bowl.
Although the position will soon be filled, there is no reason to panic about the state of the defense. They were phenomenal last year towards the end of the season, and have retained most of their free agents, except for edge rusher Trey Flowers, who accepted a huge pay-day from the Detroit Lions. Belichick enjoys aggressive schemes similar to the one Schiano was expected to employ, so there is no reason to believe we will see a completely revamped defense next year.
Earlier in the offseason, Bret Bielema’s name was floated around conversations for becoming the next Patriots’ defensive coordinator. Rumors of his employment grew stronger when Bielema began informing reporters and friends that he was going to become the next defensive coordinator in Foxboro. Everyone remembers how that turned out, as days later Schiano was offered the coordinator position.
Bielema is an educated coach who has made his mark in the NCAA, but there were concerns about him once his name began circulating around the position opening. First and foremost, he directly broke the “Patriot Way” before he was officially hired, which must have raised a massive red flag to Belichick and the Kraft family. Still around as a defensive consultant, perhaps Bielema will once again hear his name called.
Just a few days ago, former Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo was signed by New England to become a coach. The fan favorite spent his entire career as a Patriot and has continuously been praised by Belichick as one of the smartest players he has ever coached. Stepping into his first coaching role, it’s unlikely the Mayo receives an instant promotion, but his coaching journey is just beginning – it’s likely he could one day step into that position under Belichick.
No reports have surfaced naming a potential replacement, and there is no reason to believe the Patriots are rushing to fill the occupancy. Given the state of the franchise, New England will wait until they find the perfect suitor to step in. Regardless of their experience, if Belichick gives them the nod, they will be welcome in Foxboro.