The assumption has been that promotion from within will come on both sides … with quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien ascending on offense, and linebackers coach Matt Patricia doing the same on defense.
What similarity can draw between those two guys? In what’s more of a complicated situation, the answer to this one is simple. Both were given their NFL start by Bill Belichick, each came in as a quality-control assistant, and the two worked their respective ways through the system, like Josh McDaniels and Eric Mangini both once did, and like so many Belichick assistants do.
Another one of those guys: Jim Schwartz. The Lions coach was brought into the league as a personnel assistant with the Belichick-led Browns in 1993.
“Here’s the thing with Bill – Look at the way Bill started in the NFL, he started about as low as you can start, right out of college, doing anything and everything,” Schwartz told me coming off the field yesterday. “Breaking down film, holding chains on the practice field, doing all those things, he’s always had an appreciation for guys who are willing to work for cheap, or for free, and to learn.
“He treats it almost like a graduate school program. You know some football and then he trains you in the way he wants things done. I don’t think a young coach or young personnel guy could get a better start than being with Bill Belichick.”
So in a league that recycles coordinators like glass bottles, what’s the idea in going against the tide and simply promoting position coaches?
Well, continuity’s a plus, but only under the right circumstances.
“The first you need to do if you promote from within, you better have some longevity, and he’s had that,” Schwartz said. “It’s hard to promote from within if you’re only there for a couple years. What Bill’s been able to do is get young guys, he’s been able to train them, give them a little bit more and more to do. And it’s just like scouting players, you gotta scout for your team when you’re promoting coaches.
“When you already know a guy, and he already knows you, and knows the way you do things, the way you want things done, it makes it an easier transition, he’s had great success doing that.”
Are there still stumbling blocks toward O’Brien and Patricia getting those positions? Sure there are.
But both have clearly been fast-tracked to where they are, and history has shown that those guys are usually the ones who wind up being moved into spots that Belichick needs to trust most.