Bill Belichick & New England: Staff Has Holes To Fill

Nick LamotheContributor IMay 27, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - FEBRUARY 4:  Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, speaks in front of the Vince Lombardi trophy at a pre Superbowl press conference February 4, 2005 at the Prime F. Osborn Convention Center in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Since Bill Belichick’s reign began prior to the 2000-2001 season, the Gillette Stadium offices have been a revolving door for credentialed candidates to assist the franchises most successful coach.

The early years featured Charlie Weis as Offensive Coordinator and Romeo Crennel overseeing the defense.

This combination of coordinators and head coach produced the franchises first Super Bowl title and the only three Lombardi Trophies in franchise history.

With success came change.

Both Weiss and Crennel were offered head coaching positions with Notre Dame and the Cleveland Browns, respectively. Weiss was not officially replaced for the 2005 season, but his successor would eventually be named in Josh McDaniels.

As for the defensive side of the ball, Belichick entrusted the play calling duties to then Defensive Backs Coach Eric Mangini. He would serve in this position until taking the top coaching position with the New York Jets in 2006.

McDaniels managed the offense until landing a head coaching gig of his own, hired by the Denver Broncos following the 2008-2009 campaign.

With each run of winning seasons, the Patriots have lost their lead coordinators on both sides of the ball to head coaching positions.

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So who is left?

Defensive Coordinator: Dean Pees

Pees has overseen the defensive duties since the 2006 season, when his unit set a franchise record for fewest points allowed.

Pees joined the Patriots first as a linebackers’ coach, and in his first season had tremendous success with a core that included Teddy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and Willie McGinest.

The Pees-lead backers were the backbone of the Patriots defense during his reign as LB’s coach. Since Pees took over as lead signal caller for the defense, the squad has consistently ranked among the league’s best in points allowed.

With the additions of Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden in the secondary, paired with the emergence of young contributors Brandon Meriweather and Jerod Mayo, Pees again has a unit that is solid both in and outside of the box.

How he uses this talent remains to be seen. Based on his track record, Patriots fans should feel confident in what is to come.

Offensive Coordinator: Vacant

No offensive coordinator? No problem.

For the second time since the 2005 season the Patriots will not have a designated coordinator for the team’s offense.

The last time the play calling duties were left to the Head Coach, the team was held to under 20 points in a game just three times in the season—no one knows the workings of this offense quite like Bill Belichick.

With Tom Brady back in the fold for New England and his favorite familiar faces still on the roster, the Patriots’ offense will likely be a force to be reckoned with.

Don’t expect the record-setting numbers from two seasons ago, but be prepared for a return to big-play formations and a little bit of Brady magic.

General Manager: Vacant

Scott Pioli, whose official title with the New England Patriots was Vice President of Player Personnel, has joined the list of defected Patriots staffers to be picked up by competing franchises.

Pioli was largely responsible for bringing Belichick the players he sought for his three Super Bowl winning seasons. The relationship between Belichick and Pioli and their shared vision for the team will be hard to replicate.

While Pioli’s decisions were made off the field, New England has been extremely successful of bringing in midseason talent to fill voids created by injuries and poor play.

This ability to remain dynamic and to adjust on the fly will be sorely missed if Pioli’s successor can’t duplicate his achievements in the front office.

Wrap Up

New Englanders know that with Belichick at the helm, the team is in good hands.

Since the beginning of his tenure, the number of assistants on his staff is staggering.

Three current NFL head coaches, one recently replaced head coach, one collegiate head coach and an NFL GM have all been spawned from Bill's staff recently.

The one constant to the coaching staff variables?


And why should this season be any different?