Assessing the Patriots Coaching Staff for the 2021 NFL Season

By Dan Vasta in Sports
| August 18, 2021 10:40 am PDT

The New England Patriots entered the 2020 NFL season with solid expectations, but it certainly was odd to watch the postseason without their franchise involved in it.

Yes, for the first time since 2008, New England was nowhere to be found.

The franchise is not in complete disarray, but the hope is their elite coaching staff will lead them back to national prominence.

The lack of winning was rare last season, but it was a challenging year for most franchises in the NFL. Thanks to the guys calling the shots on the sidelines, the Pats have a chance at a nice turn around in 2021.

To assess their chances, read my New England Patriots coaching staff analysis for the 2021 NFL season.

Bill Belichick – Head Coach

Bill has been considered the best to ever coach in pro football. The franchise is capable of getting back to the postseason, but it remains to be seen if they have the players and the talent to get back to a Super Bowl.

Still, he has reached the postseason in 11 of the last 12 seasons. No other coach has dominated a conference like the way Belichick has with the Pats.

Take a look at what he has given us from a conference championship perspective.

Most Conference Titles
Bill Belichick Don Shula Tom Landry
9 6 5

Perhaps we won’t see New England return to another AFC title game with Belichick as the coach again, but it sure has been a fun ride.

The amount of Super Bowl appearances (12) as a head coach and assistant is mind-boggling. That total is nearly double the next highest coach (Dan Reeves, 7).

One more title would put him in the clear-cut lead with seven rings. Vince Lombardi (5), Georgia Halas (6), and Curly Lambeau (6) are the only others with four-plus.

There are no blown assignments on defense because Bill has been the defensive coordinator for the past two seasons. Matt Patricia was the defensive coordinator from 2012-17 before he left for Detroit. In 2018, we saw Brian Flores call the shots on defense before he left for the Miami Dolphins.

We haven’t seen a more successful coach and the biggest takeaway is the attention to detail.

We saw it with Alabama and Nick Saban, who assisted Belichick with the Cleveland Browns (1991-94).

Coaching is challenging for most. Yet, the one wearing a hoodie with cut-off sleeves has made it look so effortless.

Patriots’ Top Assistants for 2021

The coaching staff that Belichick has brought in over the years has been remarkable. He expects a lot from his top coordinators.

We have seen many of them take head coaching jobs after their time with Belichick. But winning can be the cure for everything – which is why so many the assistant staff have stayed put over the years too.

Josh McDaniels – Offensive Coordinator

McDaniels went 11-17 as a head coach for the Denver Broncos in 2009-10, but he certainly has enjoyed his time calling the plays with the Patriots a bit more.

The first tenure with the Patriots for McDaniel was from 2001-08 when he had a bevy of job titles.

His forte has been drawing up offensive plays and working with the premier starters, but McDaniels had to pay his dues and responsibilities with the Patriots.

He started with Nick Saban back in 1999!

  • 1999: Graduate Assistant at Michigan State under Saban
  • 2001: Personnel Assistant
  • 2002-03: Defensive Assistant
  • 2004: Quarterbacks Coach
  • 2005-08: QB Coach, Offensive Coordinator
  • 2012-19: QB Coach, Offensive Coordinator
  • 2020-Present: Offensive Coordinator

You don’t have a track record like that by accident. McDaniels continues to be a bright, effective offensive mind, and a key mind Belichick leans on.

He will be crucial to New England’s 2021 success.

Other Patriots Assistants for 2021

  • Bo Hardegree: Quality control/Quarterbacks
  • Ivan Fears: Running backs
  • Vinnie Sunseri: Running backs
  • Mick Lombardi: Wide receivers
  • Troy Brown: Wide receivers/Kick returners
  • Nick Caley: Tight ends/Fullbacks
  • Carmen Bricillo: Offensive line
  • Cole Popovich: Offensive line
  • Billy Yates: Assistant offensive line
  • DeMarcus Covington: Defensive line
  • Steve Belichick: Outside linebackers
  • Jerod Mayo: Inside linebackers
  • Mike Pellegrino: Cornerbacks
  • Brian Belichick: Safeties
  • Cam Achord: Special teams coordinator
  • Joe Houston: Special teams assistant
  • Moses Cabrera: Head strength & conditioning
  • Deron Mayo: Strength & Conditioning assistant
  • Matt Patricia: Senior football advisor
  • Evan Rothstein: Research & analysis/Coaching
  • Ross Douglas: NFL coaching fellowship/defense

Most coaches have been successful under Belichick, but the other assistants get to show their worth.

Matt Patricia brings the most experience, but he is simply in a senior advisor role. Most of these coaches have a dozen years or less of experience.

Other than McDaniels, running backs coach Ivan Fears and WR/Kick Return coach Troy Brown are the lone experienced coaches.

Luckily, Belichick has done more with less for the past few decades.

Looking Ahead to 2021 For New England

The coaching staff alone will likely keep the Patriots in the playoff hunt. There is not another team one could say that for, but ultimately the team will only go as far as the passing attack takes them.

Cam Newton should not have to play at an MVP-like level for the Patriots to reach the playoffs, but he needs to be somewhere in the same zip code. Last season was a lost season on the offensive side of the ball. The post-Tom Brady era did not start the way everybody had wanted.

The Patriots are hopeful for younger weapons to emerge in their passing game and their running back by committee backfield will stay healthy. 

The schedule is manageable but getting to double-digit victories will be a challenge.

With the number of stellar coaches, they should be in the playoff hunt for the entire season – which is not something we were able to say last season.

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