FOXBORO – For 10 seasons, Chad O’Shea coached the Patriots wide receivers. When you sit back and consider the array of talent and personalities that passed through his meeting room in those 10 years, it’s pretty amazing.
A roll call for the hell of it? Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Lafell, Danny Amendola, Josh Gordon, Michael Floyd, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins, Keshawn Martin, Reggie Wayne, Joey Galloway, Eric Decker, Kenny Britt, Cordarelle Patterson, Chris Hogan, Torry Holt, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell, Brian Tyms, Austin Collie, Deion Branch, Chad Johnson, Brandon Tate and Sam Aiken.
Some of the biggest names never saw the field or did little when they got there. Others – many others – were undervalued or overlooked and had historic careers or had a hand in winning championships before fading quietly away.
O’Shea is gone now. He’s the offensive coordinator in Miami. Also gone is Jerry Schuplinski, a vital contributor who was assistant quarterbacks coach for the past three seasons. He’s gone to Miami in the same role on Brian Flores' staff.
The new wide receivers coach is Joe Judge, who’s been the special teams coach for the Patriots the past four seasons.
Other than Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett, the rest of the wide receiver corps – Maurice Harris, Demaryius Thomas, Dontrelle Inman, rookie first-rounder N’Keal Harry and undrafted free agents Ryan Davis and Jakobi Myers – is all new.
That’s a lot for Judge to wrangle. And for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels who addressed the turnover on the offensive coaching staff recently.
“We have a great staff now,” said McDaniels. “Joe is certainly gonna do a good job with us offensively. We’ve increased (coaching assistant) Cole (Popovich’s) responsibilities. That’s part of the deal. We have plenty of hands. Chad O’Shea was a great receivers coach. The best one that I’ve ever been around and he’s deserving of the opportunity he has now in Miami and Jerry, likewise. Jerry did a great job here and I’m sure he’ll do a great job in his role down there.”
The change, McDaniels said, isn’t daunting.
“That’s a fun thing for us,” he explained. “When you have change, you have two choices. You can sit and complain about what it’s not like or you can sit there and say, ‘Man, this is kind of cool and fresh and new.’
“It gives you another opportunity to share the foundation of our system and talk about the terminology and the genesis of where things came from that sometimes you don’t do if you’ve been together for a long time,” McDaniels said. “This has been a great opportunity to get back to that. Our group is really good and there’s a different style of energy because there’s a lot of learning going on and everybody’s got a great deal of excitement heading into this spring.”
The Patriots have hired a fleet of bigger receivers since last season ended. When asked if that’s there new “type”, McDaniels replied, “We don’t have a type. If they’re short and can get open … it really doesn’t matter. We have guys that can go up and get the ball a little bit and we have other guys whose strength is more quickness inside.
“There’s no real prototype for us,” he continued. “Phillip’s one way, N’Keal’s another. Mo Harris is different from how (recently released) Bruce Ellington was. They’re different from Ryan Davis. We have some guys with size, we have some guys who are a little bit smaller but have a little bit better quickness. We’ll see what they can all do out here as we get through OTAs and into training camp and figure out how to use ‘em all.”
There’s a lot of figuring out to be done. All the way around.
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