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Personnel days

Posted by Tom Wilcox January 22, 2009 05:56 AM

During his final press conference after the regular season, Bill Belichick said one advantage of finishing earlier than in years past is that the Patriots would have more time to rest in preparation for next season and do a thorough analysis and breakdown of the organization.

“I think the last two years — with the AFC Championship game two years ago, then having to go out and coach the Pro Bowl and then last year finishing another season in February — those have been two very long seasons for our players and our staff, not just the coaches, but the entire support staff, everybody involved,” said Belichick.

One disadvantage the Pats are facing for the first time since not making the playoffs in 2002 is that other teams have had the opportunity to interview personnel — a chance they would not have had if the team were still playing.

This year, special teams coach Brad Seely took a job as an assistant head coach/special teams coordinator with Cleveland — under newly hired head coach Eric Mangini, a former Patriots assistant who was fired as Jets head coach in December — and special assistant/secondary coach Dom Capers has agreed to become the Packers’ defensive coordinator.

But the most notable losses are offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and longtime player personnel man Scott Pioli. McDaniels is the Broncos’ new head coach, and Pioli has taken over as general manager of the Chiefs.

Pioli’s departure ends a nine-year relationship with Belichick that included three Super Bowl championships, four conference titles, and six division crowns. The duo was the longest-tenured personnel director/head coach tandem in the NFL.

“To sum up in words everything Scott Pioli has meant to this organization and to me personally would be difficult, if not impossible,” said Belichick in a statement. “From the day I met him, he has demonstrated a passion for football and respect for the game that is second to none.”

At his introductory press conference Pioli, 43, said he hoped to bring the “Patriots Way” with him to Kansas City.

“The ‘Patriots Way’ starts with hard work, discipline, and creating a culture where everyone is on the same page, everyone knows their role, everyone believes in the system, and everyone does their job,” said Pioli. “People understand their roles and they are selfless about their roles. That is the core of the ‘Patriots Way.’”

McDaniels spent eight years in various positions within the organization, including the last two as the team’s offensive coordinator. He called the plays during the 2005 season after Weis’ departure but was not given the title of offensive coordinator until 2006.

McDaniels bolstered his résumé by overseeing New England’s record-setting offense in 2007 and showing it could be effective without Tom Brady: The Patriots ranked fifth in total offense per game this season while recording the sixth-highest single-season rushing total in team history.

That gave Denver the confidence to take a chance on McDaniels and sign him to a four-year, $8 million contract even though he’s only 32 years old.

“My age has never been a factor, it’s never going to be a factor,” said McDaniels. “It’s about performance. It’s about what you’re capable of getting the players to do. It’s about the information you can give them and doing the job to the best of your ability.”

Belichick has normally preferred to promote from within, and the early feeling is that the Patriots will bump somebody up.

If the Patriots stay in-house, the likely candidates for offensive coordinator figure to be receivers coach Bill O’Brien, who was an offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech and Duke, and tight ends coach Pete Mangurian, who was the offensive coordinator with the Falcons in 2003.

Filling Pioli’s position might not be as easy. One candidate is Nick Caserio, who was the team’s director of player personnel last season and has served in various coaching and personnel roles with the team since 2001.

Tom Wilcox covers the Patriots for OT and can be reached at twilcox@globe.com

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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
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