FOXBOROUGH -- Over the last several years, as his young assistants have risen through the ranks of the coaching staff, Bill Belichick has effectively made some of them prove that they have what it takes to get the title of coordinator.
He did it with Josh McDaniels in McDaniels' first go-round with the Patriots when he was called the offense's plays for a couple of years before officially being named offensive coordinator. And when McDaniels left for Denver, Belichick did the same thing with Bill O'Brien.
Matt Patricia is the latest such assistant. On Thursday, New England announced several coaching changes, and foremost among them was the formal promotion of Patricia from linebackers/safeties coach to defensive coordinator.
The 37-year old has been the defensive play-caller for at least a couple of seasons.
As the Patriots began their rookie mini-camp on Friday, Patricia and McDaniels, now back and in charge of the offense, were made available to the media, but Patricia shied away from any talk of his promotion.
Asked when Bill Belichick informed him of the move, Patricia said, "You know, job titles aside we all have a job to do on defense, everything is always ever-changing and we're just trying to get everything done that we can to facilitate this part of the season."
But was there a specific day Belichick pulled you into his office?
"You know, look, our jobs, our responsibilities on defense, they are what they are, it's not really about titles, we're just trying to get the job done," he said.
But it has to be gratifying that you've shown Belichick enough to get this promotion?
"Uh, I'm not really ... titles are not really the important thing. All of us as a staff, defensively, we all work together, we all have a job to do, we all have input and we just really collectively combine to do what we do every week and put a good product on the field and that's really what we do; it doesn't have to do with titles or anything," Patricia said.
Patricia was more expansive when asked about Belichick's influence on him.
"I mean, personally Bill is a coach that I've been around for a long time, I can't really even begin to speak on what he means to me and what he's helped me learn, football in general," he said. "Just like every place I've been, there's coaches you try to learn from, and like in any profession, try to make yourself better. Coach Belichick is a great example for anyone to be able to follow and learn and study from and I try to take in that information to the best of my ability, along with a lot of the great coaches I work with every day - Pepper Johnson, who I work with every day and who I've been around the most, just try to learn as much as I can. I think that's what anyone does at any job."