Hackett: Nick Caserio's departure allows for a much-needed fresh set of eyeballs


The Godfather was all over the television during the holidays, particularly around the New Year. I have the three-DVD set from probably 20 years ago and though I was staring right at it next to my screen, I powered through hours of the commercial riddled broadcast and drank it all in.

One character that I was laser focused on throughout my absurdly lazy day, was Corleone family lawyer and informally adopted son, Tom Hagen. As the family consigliere, Hagen’s role was that of trusted confidant and to be an outside voice offering a sober and often times a more diplomatic perspective to the family’s instinctively violent ways.

What a refreshing and rare lost art, that of offering sober, yet differing consultative opinion. The need for that particular skill and art form is in dire need on many levels these days sadly, but that aside, given the current state of the Patriots and what lay ahead of them, welcoming a new and consultative voice may not be a bad idea.

Just about a year ago, the longtime, revered coach and organizational glue-guy, Dante Scarnecchia announced his retirement. That week I wrote a column detailing a major issue that has been ravaging the Patriots for well over a decade; that is, the key personnel losses to the coaching staff and football operation: Dante Scarnecchia's departure adds to Patriots' problems (radio.com). It’s no small matter. In that column I cited 30 names of coaches and personnel guys including Scar that have left or in most cases been plucked from the organization.

This fact makes the Patriots success over the last two decades even more astounding. In an era when keeping continuity on the field is so difficult, the Patriots have been hit hard both on the field and off. Now with the rebuild officially upon us, plenty of money to spend and many holes to fill, I think it’s time for some sober, diplomatic and dare I say, different perspective.

This isn’t an indictment on Nick Caserio at all. I’m simply shinning a light on the potential of a new day and with it, a new opportunity to solicit opinion from a potentially different view. More clearly stated, if Belichick’s process and philosophy comes from the Bill Parcells tree, would it hurt to get a voice from the Bill Walsh camp in the room for example?

Given the current state of the team, I say not.

I’m not pouring even a drip of water on what Belichick and the Patriots have achieved over this incredible and incomparable dynasty. Not one bit. Few if any, have enjoyed it and appreciate it more than me. However, debate, questions and challenging conventional thought is historically proven to be the foundation for making good decisions and the Patriots need to make nothing but good decisions this offseason. Their decision making when addressing its roster construction has and will continue to impact the organization for 2021 and well beyond.

To get it right, their best decisions need to start right now.

To me, with Caserio leaving the opportunity for a new Chief of Staff is screaming for diversity of thought. Bring in someone that will challenge Bill. What’s the worst that can happen? I want Belichick to be the final Judge, I just don’t want him to load the jury box. Particularly with my not so irrational fear that Steven Belichick may be more Fredo Corleone than Michael…

Belichick’s a smart guy. Having a differing opinion in the room one would think would only make him sharper. Debate creates that.

Now perhaps Caserio was that guy or at least was to a degree, I’m unsure. However, when we have heard him speak his tone and approach always seemed to be in lock step with his boss and to be clear, that’s not a bad thing either. Leadership consensus breeds belief in the troops, consensus is good. Let’s be frank though, I think most of us are all of the consensus that the team building over the last few years hasn’t been great, so now is the time for that missing perspective. One that may challenge Bill’s thought process. One from the outside.

My co-worker Ryan Hannable cited a few old friends in his column yesterday: Could Bill Belichick re-hire former Patriots executives? (radio.com). All guys I like and respect but I’m thinking a little differently. I’m thinking of what the Bruins boldly did when they finally left their very incestuous confines of the decade’s long Harry Sinden regime and brought in Peter Chiarelli in 2006. Let me be clear, I don’t want Belichick to go anywhere, I just want his next consiglieri to be from outside the family. (All due respect to Fredo.)

Back to the idea of organizational continuity. You know who has done this exceptionally well? The Pittsburgh Steelers. Yeah I don’t like them either, but I respect what they have created. The Steelers' scouting department has tenure that ranges from seven to 25 years. All their scouts have been with the team at least five years. Eight of them at least 15 and combined, there’s nearly 200 years of experience amongst the group.

So while Patriots Nation toils over the discarded wide receivers that have made little to no impact over many years, why not try to pluck one of the Steelers college scouts? Here are some of the Wide Receivers those guys have drafted: Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown (before he became this version of Antonio Brown), Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Shuster, James Washington and Diontae Johnson. Wow! Sold American.

It took a little work to find these Pittsburgh scouting guys but here are some names: Phil Kriedler-29 years, Mark Gorscack-25 years, Bruce McNorton-20 seasons, Dave Pettet-16 seasons, Kelvin Fischer-15 years, Dan Colbert-9 years, Mike Butler-7 years to name a few.

Want a wide receiver or two? Here’s an idea, call one of these guys, add another zero to his salary and make him the Patriots next consiglieri. Tom Hagen approved.