Sunday 7: With Patriots coaching roles now known, who calls plays on defense?


1. On Friday, the Patriots’ assistant coaches met with the media for the first time this offseason and there it was learned who will be coaching which positions in the upcoming season. The coaching staff saw a lot of turnover this offseason, but there was a lot of internal promotions meaning not many new faces. It's worth noting there does not appear to be an official defensive coordinator. There wasn’t last year, although it was known Brian Flores was calling the plays. Bill Belichick isn’t big on titles, so this isn’t a huge deal, but it does make the question worth asking — who is calling the plays? The obvious answer would be Belichick, although it’s worth considering the last time he called the plays for the defense the team finished with only five wins (2000). Other options could be Bret Bielema (defensive line coach), or maybe even an outside the box option in Jerod Mayo (inside linebackers coach). It will likely take until perhaps the preseason to get an answer, but this could make for some good discussion until then. Belichick, who just turned 67 years old, has to be the favorite for the job, but it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if it were someone else.

2. The biggest thing that stood out with the new coaching staff was special teams coach Joe Judge also being the wide receivers coach, replacing Chad O’Shea who is now in Miami. It will certainly be a challenge, but with a good support staff in place (assistant special teams coach Cameron Achord now in his second season and an experienced offensive staff) it can be done. One of the reasons for doing it has to be because Judge has aspirations of one day becoming a NFL head coach. It follows a path John Harbaugh took before becoming the Ravens’ head coach. He was the Eagles’ special teams coordinator for nine seasons before adding defensive backs coach to his title in 2007. Then, in 2008 he was named head coach of the Ravens.

3. One other thing that stands out with the new coaching staff is how young it is, the youngest staff to work under Belichick in quite some time. Consider this: Tom Brady is older than six of the Patriots positional coaches, some by a long-shot: Mike Pellegrino (25), DeMarcus Covington (30), Steve Belichick (32), Mayo (33), Nick Caley (36) and Joe Judge (37). Also, Dante Scarnecchia began coaching with the Patriots (1991) before Pellegrino was even born.

4. The Dontrelle Inman signing may be one of the most underrated of the offseason for the Patriots, as we like his chances of making an impact next season. In his final four games with the Colts last season, he caught 17-of-19 targets for 231 yards and was able to emerge as their No. 2 wide out. The 30-year-old can line up both inside and outside, as 30 percent of his snaps last year came out of the slot. This versatility gives him a leg up on some of the other receivers in the mix. As for a comparison to a past Patriots receiver, think Chris Hogan.

5. There will be plenty of competition at both receiver and tight end this summer. When it comes to receivers, the only real locks to make the team are Julian Edelman and rookie N’Keal Harry. Phillip Dorsett is likely safe as well, but then everyone else will be fighting for a roster spot. The same goes for tight end. While Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Ben Watson and Matt LaCosse have all been added, there isn’t a lot of money committed to any of them. This could be one of the most competitive training camps on the offensive side of the ball in quite some time.

6. Speaking of Harry, his introduction to the media went well last week and it appears his first impression on the coaching staff was positive as well. “I think we’re excited to have him here, to become part of our team. He’s working hard right now to learn and get on page,” Judge said. “… The best thing he’s done so far is shown a very good work ethic and attitude to come on in and embrace what we’re telling him right now. It has been a very short window at this point where we’ve been able to work with him here, but I am very excited to work with him and any other receiver we have.”

7. Looking ahead to the Patriots this week, there isn’t much going on. Rookie minicamp will wrap up Sunday and then the third phase of the voluntary offseason workout program, which includes OTAs, doesn’t begin until May 20. Things should pick up at that point and then even more so once mandatory minicamp comes June 4-6.