New England Patriots prepare for loss of both coordinators

By Brian Hall, The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 30, 2018 at 7:18 PM
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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Matt Patricia wore jeans and a leather jacket emblazoned with the New England Patriots logo. The trademark pencil was stuck in his ear as he sat halfway up the stands while answering questions from the media during Super Bowl "Opening Night" on Monday.

Patricia was gregarious in speaking with reporters he's never met before, enjoying the spectacle of the moment in a rare break from studying the game.

"Matt's a nerd," New England linebacker Kyle Van Noy joked a day later about the Patriots' defensive coordinator, before diving further into what makes Patricia tick. "He's a great coach, a great guy, very smart, knows the game of football, loves the game of football. He's helped me to see things differently from a bigger picture, and take one play at a time.

"Having him in your ear can sometimes get annoying because he's so smart that he tells you sometimes what's going on. It's like, 'Man, just shut up and let me play.' But he's been amazing. He's been a huge instrument, I feel like, to my success and I'm glad to play for him."

Between questions about another trip to the Super Bowl, preparing to stop Philadelphia's offense and the run-pass options, Patricia shot down questions regarding what might happen after the Super Bowl, when he's expected to become the Detroit Lions' head coach.

New England will play in its NFL-record 10th Super Bowl on Sunday against the Eagles and are going for back-to-back championships -- and third in four years -- for the second time in franchise history. Afterward, the Patriots might have a major shakeup among their coaching staff.

So goes the spoils of winning championships. Other teams want to copy their success. Patricia and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are both reportedly leaving for head-coaching opportunities. For Patricia, it would be his first. McDaniels had his ill-fated first stint with the Denver Broncos.

"I realize and I understand and I appreciate the talent in the coaches in our building," New England receiver Danny Amendola said. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to even be coached by them. Whatever their opportunities are in the future, I'll be excited for them."

It won't be the first time two coordinators have been poached from a Super Bowl Patriots team. New England lost offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to Notre Dame and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to the Cleveland Browns after beating, coincidentally, Philadelphia in the Super Bowl following the 2004 season.

Patricia passes the credit on to head coach Bill Belichick and the system and organization he has developed with the Patriots.

"I don't think there's enough great things you can say about Coach Belichick and everything that he does from top-down football-wise," Patricia said. "Whether it's personnel, players, coaches, it's unbelievable."

Patricia has earned this moment after six seasons as New England's defensive coordinator, which followed five seasons as the linebackers coach.

Since he moved to defense - he was originally an offensive coach - the Patriots have finished in the top 10 in fewest points allowed in 10 of his 11 seasons. This year, Patricia led a defense that allowed 18.5 points a game, the fifth-lowest total in the league.

Van Noy recalled needing to learn new responsibilities on the fly after Donta Hightower was injured against Kansas City. Patricia was there to show the way.

"Me and a couple other guys went upstairs and he was up there basically being a teacher at the front of the classroom and we were just walking through steps for I don't know how long, a couple hours," Van Noy said. "That just kind of shows the person he is and how bad he wants to win."

McDaniels coordinated the league's second-best scoring offense this year (28.6 points per game) and is reportedly going to be named the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Leading top offenses is nothing new for McDaniels, who is in his second stint with New England. In his nine seasons as Patriots offensive coordinator, he's had six top-10 rankings in total offense.

His relationship with quarterback Tom Brady thrived again.

"Any team would want him to be the leader of their organization," Brady said. "If this is our last game together, we're going to try to make the best of it. We've still got a week of prep to go. There's a lot of important things ahead for us. We enjoy that. I enjoy that part, not quite as much as the game, but I don't mind it and I don't think he does either. We need to create, really, another special memory, but that's going to take a win. That's going to be tough to come by."

Of course, there was McDaniels' two-year stop in Denver as head coach where he went 11-17 and was fired after a 3-9 start to 2010. He spent one year in St. Louis as offensive coordinator before reuniting with Brady and Belichick.

Like Patricia, McDaniels has avoided talking about head-coaching opportunities, but he did open up a bit to

"I've learned a lot in my career, whether it's here, my time in Denver or in St. Louis," McDaniels said. "Every step of the way has been invaluable to me. There's so many good people and so many good coaches and personnel people that are willing to share what they know and I've tried to pick up things here and there from everyone I've worked for.

"Sometimes I think failure is the best teacher."

Failure hasn't been much of an experience for either with New England.

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