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While coaching staff previews are usually about the last thing NFL fans care to read, in New England, Patriots diehards worship at the altar of Bill Belichick. Though it may sound hyperbolic, Belichick has truly reached cult status in New England, the byproduct of three Super Bowl rings. For a long time it seemed that the Hooded One could do no wrong.
However as high profile coordinators scurried out of town one after another, detractors began raising flags. For the first time, their have been some cracks revealed in the previously impenetrable Belichick foundation. It has always been “In Bill We Trust,” give him the headset and get the hell out of the way. It didn’t matter who was surrounding him as long as he made the game plan and he trusted them to get their guys to execute it. It’s simple when you win titles, not so much otherwise. As the window closes on the Patriots’ dynasty years, it will be interesting to see if the coaching staff can continue to keep their veterans motivated while getting the young guys and free agents up to speed.
Bill Belichick begins his 10th year at the helm and his 35th season in the league. He remains the only head coach in the league’s history to win three Super Bowls in four years. Belichick’s three wins ties him with Joe Gibbs and Bill Walsh for second place on the NFL’s all-time list. Titles aside, Belichick teams are also known for their ability to bounce back after a loss, and for their sustained success over the league’s top competition. From 2003 to 2009, Belichick’s Patriots were 18-1 (.947) in games following a loss. In that same spanm the Patriots went 32-13 against NFL Playoff teams, a .711 winning percentage. Usually devoid of many major stars, Belichick’s teams are smart, disciplined, and trusting of their teammates and of the game plan.
The tw0-time AP NFL Coach of the Year heads into camp with two contracts looming large in Tom Brady and the lack thereof in holdout Logan Mankins, a stalwart of the offensive line. Belichick oversees all personnel decisions, though he isn’t likely to allow any outside distractions sway his coaching and game-planning. As he has instilled in his teams since he arrived in 2000, in Foxboro they really do take it one game at a time.
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Scarnecchia is the type of guy that belongs on a football field. He joined the Patriots in 1982 as a special teams and tight end coach and he’ll probably remain here for the remainder of his career. From 1989 to 1990, he served on the Indianapolis Colts’ staff as their offensive line coach. Scarnecchia returned to the Patriots in 1991, where he spent two seasons under Dick McPherson again as a special teams and offensive line coach throughout some of the worst football the team had ever seen. In 1992, Scarnecchia held the responsibilities of head coach while MacPherson was ill for the final eight games of the season. Under head coach Bill Parcells in 1993 and 1994, Scarnecchia was re-assigned as a special assistant. Once Parcells left the team after the 1996 New England Patriots season, and Pete Carroll was hired as head coach, Scarnecchia became the team’s special teams coach again. In Carroll’s final season with the Patriots, Scarnecchia was re-assigned to his current position of offensive line coach. New head coach Bill Belichick additionally appointed Scarnecchia as the team’s assistant head coach in 2000 where we find him today.
Pepper Johnson is hard to miss. He’s larger than life and often seen wearing a golf visor, backwards and turned upside down, hollering as he marches up and down the sideline. From a viewer’s perspective, it seems as if Johnson coaches as he plays–in your face. After a twelve year playing career, Johnson got his start coaching as an assistant linebackers coach with the Patriots during the 2000 season. Johnson then served as the Patriots’ inside linebackers coach from 2001 through 2003, before moving to defensive line coach in 2004.
The man who got his nickname from his preferred childhood cereal topping also shares a rare honor. His son, Dionte Johnson, is a former fullback for the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Arizona Cardinals. Dionte was elected as a captain of the Buckeyes in 2007, making Pepper and Dionte only the third father-son captains in Buckeye history, joining Jim and Kirk Herbstreit and James and Jeff Davidson.
Named to quarterbacks coach in 2009, O’Brien previously served as wide receivers coach after joining the team as a coaching assistant in 2007. Prior to working in the NFL, O’Brien coached at Georgia Tech, Duke, and Maryland. As running backs coach at Marlyand, he saw his team finish second in the ACC in rushing and the Terrapins beat West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.
Bill O’Brien was born in Dorchester and was a linebacker and defensive end at Brown University from 1990-92.
In 1991, O’Brien received his break when he was hired by Belichick who was then the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. O’Brien operated as the Browns’ special teams coach and went on to win the NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year Award in 1994. He stayed with the franchise after Belichick’s departure and followed the team to Baltimore as they became the Baltimore Ravens following the 1995 season. O’Brien was the Ravens’ special teams coach through the 1998 season before he joined the Carolina Panthers as their assistant head coach and special teams coach in 1999. He left the Panthers after the 2004 season to join then-Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban as Saban’s coordinator of football operations and assistant to the head coach in Saban’s two seasons in Miami, 2005 and 2006. O’Brien then joined the Denver Broncos as their special teams coach in 2007, leaving after the 2008 season to serve the Patriots in the same capacity, re-uniting with Belichick. No relation to Bill, Scott received playing contracts from the Green Bay Packers and the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.
After serving as an assistant for three seasons, Boyer was named to defensive backs coach at the outset of the 2009 season. Boyer was a two-time academic All-American at Muskingum College and Belichick certainly appreciates the value of brains which may explain why he was hired, despite a relatively thin resume. Boyer began his coaching career in 2000 as a graduate assistant at King’s College, Pennsylvania, and then served in the same capacity at the University of Dayton in 2001 and Kent State University in 2002 and 2003. In 2004, Boyer served as the defensive backs coach at Bryant University. He then served as the defensive coordinator at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 2005 before joining the Patriots in 2006 as a defensive coaching assistant.
Fears began his coaching career in 1976 with his alma mater, William & Mary as a graduate assistant and in 1977 was the team’s wide receivers coach. From 1978 to 1979 he served as the team’s quarterbacks coach before moving to Syracuse University in 1980 in the same capacity.
Fears joined the Patriots’ coaching staff in 1991. He spent two seasons with the Patriots before moving on to coach the Chicago Bears’ wide receivers starting in 1993, but rejoined New England in 1999 as their wide receivers coach. In 2002, he was re-assigned to running backs coach.
It seems appropriate that Brown is simply known as ‘defensive coach.’ As a player, Brown served as the last line of defense playing safety as a member of the Patriots, the New York Jets, and Detroit Lions over his eight-year career.
Brown worked as a special teams coach under former Patriots assistant coach and Jets head coach Al Groh at the University of Virginia from 2001 through 2003. Brown joined the Jets as a defensive backs coach in 2004 under head coach Herm Edwards and spent three years with the team, including one under then-new head coach and former Patriots assistant Eric Mangini in 2006. In January of 2007, Brown was named the defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish under head coach and former Patriots assistant Charlie Weis. In 2008, Brown shifted his positional responsibilities to defensive backs. He was named Associate Head Coach in 2009 while serving as co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. Weis was fired by Notre Dame after the season and Brown did not return to the team. Brown was added to the Patriots’ defensive coaching staff as a defensive backs coach in 2010 under Belichick.
Patricia joined the Patriots as an offensive coaching assistant in 2004. In 2005, upon the departure of assistant offensive line/tight ends coach Jeff Davidson, Patricia was re-assigned as the Patriots’ assistant offensive line coach. Then-linebackers coach Dean Pees was promoted to defensive coordinator after the season, promoting another re-assignment for Patricia, this time to linebackers coach for the 2006 season.
O’Shea got his start in the pros in 2003 as a volunteer assistant to be an assistant special teams coach for the Kansas City Chiefs under special teams coordinator Frank Gansz, a coach for Houston when O’Shea played there. He became a full-time assistant special teams coach for the Chiefs in 2004, spending two years there . In 2006, O’Shea joined the Minnesota Vikings as an offensive assistant, working with the wide receivers in 2007 and 2008. Also in 2008, O’Shea added assistant special teams coaching responsibilities. In 2009, O’Shea became the wide receivers coach for the Patriots.