Rather than name a defensive coordinator to replace Dean Pees for the 2010 season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick will involve himself more directly in the team’s defensive planning and play calling, according to a release on Patriots.com.
With the reshuffling of their coaching staff, including keeping the same offensive assistants, the Patriots will enter next year without an offensive coordinator or a defensive coordinator.
“Titles are fine, nothing wrong with them,” Belichick said, according to the release. “But the most important thing is each person’s role, that we do everything we can to help the players succeed – everyone collectively getting the job done.”
The Patriots offensive staff remains the same, with quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien, the team’s primary playing-calling assistant coach, keeping his role and not adding the title of offensive coordinator.
Last week, the Patriots announced the hiring of Corwin Brown as a new defensive coach. He will coach defensive backs alongside Josh Boyer while linebackers coach Matt Patricia, defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, and Pat Graham will assist Belichick on the defense.
"It's going to work," Patriots cornerback Shawn Springs said. "As long as Bill is in the room, we're good."
With their staff set in an unusual manner, the Patriots will press forward with their offseason evaluation and planning for April’s draft.
“That first step of the process is always very important,” Belichick said, according to the release. “The teambuilding process for next year starts with evaluating ourselves on every level – plays, players, coaching, practice, how we run our meetings, basically everything we do from A to Z.”
UPDATE, 5:22 p.m.: Here are three possible factor that contributed to the move.
1. Belichick, whose background is rooted heavily on defense, has always been involved with the defensive gameplan. Not naming a coordinator means the Patriots do not have to pay a coach the money that title typically commands.
2. The leading in-house candidates were Patricia and Johnson. Patricia is a rising star whom linebacker Junior Seau called a future head coach. Johnson is a hard-working, loyal, versatile assistant who has been with Belichick since the Patriots hired him in 2000. By not naming a coodinator, Belichick ensures he will not alienate either coach.
3. Neither Johnson nor Patricia has been a coordinator at any level. Not giving either the public responsibility of calling the defense ensures they can develop with decreased scrutinity.