Now that we know, officially, that the Patriots have lost both of their coordinators of the past six seasons to head-coaching gigs, let's peek ahead to see who could slide in as Bill Belichick's top assistants for the 2018 season.
Chad O'Shea, wide receivers coach: O'Shea has been given the preseason play-calling responsibilities in the past, an indication that he would be called upon to serve as offensive coordinator should anything happen that would prevent Josh McDaniels from carrying out his game-day gig. O'Shea is instrumental in not only tutoring a position group that gets its cues from one of the most demanding quarterbacks in history, but he also makes critical contributions in game-planning and has been responsible for putting together the team's red-zone packages. O'Shea just finished his 15th NFL season and his ninth in New England.
Offensive notes: Jerry Schuplinski, who received some hard-earned recognition last season for his work with rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, was a potential candidate for the offensive coordinator duties. Perhaps he would have been named quarterbacks coach and taken on the coordinator duties. (The Patriots went without an offensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010 and Bill O'Brien served as quarterbacks coach.) As the assistant quarterbacks coach, Schuplinski has been in meetings with Brady and McDaniels, and his work in helping young quarterbacks Brissett or Jimmy Garoppolo has been valuable. However, ESPN has reported that Schuplinski is expected to join McDaniels in Indianapolis. Schuplinski played his college football at John Carroll University, where he was teammates with McDaniels, Nick Caserio and director of pro personnel Dave Ziegler... Dante Scarnecchia will be 70 later this month. He told NBC Sports Boston that he could envision himself coaching next season, but he would not commit to 2018. Should he depart, coaching assistant Cole Popovich would be among the favorites to replace Scarnecchia.
Brian Flores, linebackers coach: Flores already received interest from the Cardinals to interview for their head-coaching job before Arizona hired Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks for the job. He could be due for a promotion. Like O'Shea for the offense, Flores has previously taken on play-calling duties for the defense in preseason games, indicating he would have been relied upon in Matt Patricia's absence. Flores joined the Patriots as a scouting assistant in 2004 after finishing up his playing career as a two-year starter at Boston College. He's in his 14th season with the Patriots and his 10th season as a coach. For the past two seasons, he's led the linebackers after serving as safeties coach for four seasons. During Super Bowl week last year, Flores reportedly had interest from the 49ers to take over their open defensive coordinator spot.
Defensive notes: It has been reported that Greg Schiano could take on defensive coordinator duties for the Patriots. The former Rutgers and Buccaneers head coach has plenty of experience running a program and his most recent gig has been as the associate head coach/defensive coordinator/safeties coach at Ohio State. Schiano has a long-time supporter in Belichick and it would come as no surprise if Belichick found him a place on the staff. Schiano coached Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and safeties coach Steve Belichick in their Rutgers days...Belichick could opt to go without a coordinator and spend more (a lot more) time focusing on that side of the ball. In 2010 and 2011, the Patriots did not have a defensive coordinator.
Special teams notes: It has been widely reported that Joe Judge could join Josh McDaniels in Indianapolis, but if he does not, he'd be expected to return to his role running the kicking game for the Patriots. His official title in 2017 was special teams coach. Perhaps, if he has an offer elsewhere and the Patriots want to keep him in-house, he could be named special teams coordinator. Should Judge end up with McDaniels, assistant special teams coach Ray Ventrone would be the logical choice to fill in. Ventrone just finished his third season as a coach. He spent nine seasons as a player, including parts of three seasons with the Patriots.