Change is coming for the Patriots this offseason. Every day this week, we'll react to one area of the team that either has already undergone a shift, is in the process of shifting, or will be shifting soon. We'll start with what's happening on Bill Belichick's coaching staff.
Before free agency, before the draft, the Patriots have some moves to make.
They lost defensive play-caller Brian Flores to Miami, where he'll be the Dolphins' head coach. Also headed to Miami is new Dolphins offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea, defensive passing game chief and cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer and assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski. Brendan Daly has also reportedly left to be the defensive line coach for the Chiefs.
That means the Patriots have to fill their vacancies at linebacker coach, defensive play-caller, defensive line coach, corners coach and assistant quarterbacks coach.
It's unclear how each spot will be filled, but there's one that's already spoken for.
The Boston Globe has reported that Flores' play-calling duties will go to former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano as Patriots defensive coordinator. Schiano is coming off of a three-year run as Ohio State defensive coordinator.
The hire makes sense on multiple levels.
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First, Schiano has a close relationship with Bill Belichick and has for years. At Rutgers, Schiano coached Steve Belichick and 13 others who eventually went to work for Belichick in New England, most notably the McCourty brothers, Duron Harmon and former Patriots corner Logan Ryan.
Second, Schiano has a reputation for being a strong teacher of fundamentals, particularly in the secondary. Four of his defensive backs at Ohio State were selected as first-round picks. The Patriots have plenty of experience in the secondary, but they're stocked with young players J.C. Jackson, Keion Crossen, Duke Dawson and Jonathan Jones, who might benefit from Schiano's tutelage.
Furthermore, Schiano is coming from a program where his defense was known for its frequent use of man-to-man coverages. No team played more man-to-man defense last year than the Patriots, and with cover corners Stephon Gilmore and Jackson returning for 2019 it looks like that will continue to be the case. In that regard, Schiano's hire might provide a soft landing for a defense undergoing a significant coaching shakeup.
This will remain Belichick's defense, even under Schiano's direction. But last spring Patriots players lauded Flores for allowing them to process more quickly and play faster. It was Belichick's defense then and remained so, but Flores made the calls and had a real impact on how information was laid out for and digested by those he coached.
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How Schiano fares in that regard is anyone's guess. But when it comes to coaching man-to-man fundamentals to young players, it makes sense that Belichick would consider him the best available.
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