Patriots OC search shows Bill Belichick’s comfort trumps all

It’s all on hold as we wait for the white smoke to rise over One Patriot Place, indicating that a real-life homosapien has been selected to lead the Patriots’ offense with a title and all just like you’ve seen it on TV. .

When the news hits, we’ll dig into: A) why the signing of Bill O’Brien means the Patriots are back or B) why the Patriots couldn’t sign Bill O’Brien.

While we wait, we can give the Patriots credit for casting a wider net in OC than they did last offseason when they cast no net at all.

But the network is still not big. If you are not a Friend of Bill B., you do not need to apply.

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Every individual examined has some kind of Belichickian link. Former Patriots OT Adrian Klemm He was selected in the second round of the draft for the Patriots in 2000. Keenan McCardell played for Belichick in Cleveland. shawn jefferson played wide receiver for the Patriots in the mid-to-late 1990s and overlapped with Belichick in 1996. Nick Caley has been on the staff since 2015 as the tight ends coach. And O’Brien has obviously been here.

The industry is FULL of offensive coaches with fresh ideas and approaches.

But it seems that the only way to get an audience with Bill is to have previously been hired by him (Klemm, McCardell, O’Brien) or to have shared a dressing room (Jefferson) with him. It doesn’t matter if he has to go back three decades to find that tie, if it’s there, the No. 1 rating is satisfied. Then he will deign to give an audience.

The incestuous approach has an obvious advantage. Familiarity.

Coaches who have been close to Belichick know the expectations, the hours and the meager pay. They know what Belichick considers “good” football. They knew because they trained alongside him. Or they were recruited by him in their early 20s through shared interests like lacrosse (Mike Pellegrino), learning “good football” and not knowing any other way to attack work.

The Patriots’ staff over the years consisted of people Belichick worked with, such as Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. Then, when those coaches moved on, vetted young coaches working with Nick Saban (Josh McDaniels, Brian Daboll, for example), working as a ball boy for the Browns (Eric Mangini), or playing for Belichick (Pepper Johnson) were hired and promoted to higher levels. positions.

The entire industry is a “who do you know…” business. Most are. But the Patriots are the most underground team in the league. A closed circuit. by Bill Belichick comfort level rules everything.

Why did you keep recruiting Rutgers players? Because his son Stephen was playing there for head coach Greg Schiano. Belichick came to trust Schiano (who spent about three days as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator in 2019). Stephen could attest. Rutgers became a Patriots farm team.

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The Patriots were also exceptionally strong with the players of Urban Meyer from Florida and Ohio State in the past decade. In 14 of Belichick’s 23 drafts, he has taken multiple players from the same school. There are the usual suspects: players from LSU and Alabama when Saban was in charge. But there were also two from Pat Hill’s Fresno State program in 2005, two from Texas A&M in 2003, the first two from Georgia in 2018.

Once Belichick feels good about a program and the person running it, he’ll keep coming back to it. That worked really well with Logan Mankins and James Sanders (Fresno) or Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan (Rutgers). Not so well with Meyers players like Chad Jackson, Jermaine Cunningham or Aaron Hernandez.

Not everyone remains a “made man” forever. Trust can evaporate. Ask Mangini. Or Flowers. But if you stay on Bill’s right side, Foxboro can become a safe haven for friends caught out in the cold.

When Mike Lombardi was fired by the Browns in 2014, he came to work for the patriots for two years. After Matt Patricia was fired by the Lions in 2020, Belichick brought him in to keep busy and lick his professional wounds. Joe Judge was fired by the Giants. He landed back in new england. In each of those cases, the former team was on the hook for paying off the balance of the contract with, presumably, some compensation from the Patriots.

The Patriots could avoid taking on the full load of these guys by simply calling them “advisors” and letting their former employers keep paying. The Razorback Foundation in reality It was after former University of Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema AND the Patriots in court after Bielema took low-paying jobs with the Patriots and kept cashing in on his $12 million purchase of the foundation.

Patriots attorney Brandon Bigelow argued: “The Patriots paid Mr. Bielema a fair and reasonable sum for this work and certainly could have offered him much less for the work he performed. …

“It is obvious that what the Foundation is really doing is seeking undue influence in a simple breach of contract dispute with a former coach. . . . As this matter progresses, you should also consider how it may appear to others that the Foundation is making frivolous claims and harassing a professional football team simply for giving a fired college football coach an opportunity.”

Interestingly, both Bielema and Lombardi left the Patriots when their contracts with their former employers ran out and the Patriots had to start paying. We’ll see if the same thing happens with Patricia, whose contract with the Lions has expired. Heard he might be dating too.

It’s an angle. The individual wins by working to the right of Belichick. The Patriots get work at a reduced price. The competition to stay in Belichick’s favor is intense.

What is the disadvantage of this incestuous in relation to this search for training?

The pool of young people willing to work long hours for low pay with ambiguous titles must remain supplied. Otherwise, you will run out of future candidates. Especially, a trainer is hired elsewhere and then assaults his staff. Like Belichick did when he came to New England in 2000.

The previous decade of success for the Brady-assisted team saw younger coaches and executives flee in search of new jobs. McDaniels, Patricia, Brian Flores on the coaches’ side; Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort on the staff side. They leave, they bring coaching friends with them, the staff is reduced. And the pool of experienced replacements becomes shallower.

The blows Belichick has taken with coaches and executives leaving because of age and opportunity are unprecedented in their scope. That cannot be minimized. And no one knows that better than Belichick.

But Belichick’s discomfort with trainer flight and his desire to reward loyalty comes at a cost. Nick Caley checked all the boxes last offseason when Josh McDaniels left. Caley went to John Carroll as McDaniels and Caserio. He worked in Arkansas for Bielema. He worked his way up from offensive assistant in 2015 to tight ends coach, where he spent five seasons with McDaniels.

It made a lot of sense as McDaniels’ successor, even if the team didn’t give him the OC title. Instead, the Patriots supposedly stopped Caley from going to Las Vegas with McDaniels and opted instead to make Patricia, who was clearly outmatched on paper, the de facto offensive coordinator/play caller.

What did Caley do in 2022 that made him interview-worthy when he wasn’t this past January? Was installing Patricia the “best thing for the soccer team”? because Caley (who had a contract expiring after 2022) was an X factor? Or was it the easiest thing to do and what made Belichick feel most comfortable?

Obviously, O’Brien is a highly qualified candidate. He is the leader by far because of his experience as a head coach in college and in the NFL and as a high level OC. But the experience level of all the other candidates, especially after last season’s regression, remains modest. None have been OCs in the NFL. Everyone will have a learning curve if they are hired. But the box they check — meeting Bill Belichick and thanking Bill for the opportunity they’ve been given — is the most important box.

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