Hannable: Bill Belichick about to enter most difficult offseason he’s had in long time

Ryan Hannable
February 05, 2019 - 1:50 am
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For the last several offseasons, Bill Belichick has had it fairly easy.

Last year had the potential to be a tough one, but when Josh McDaniels changed his mind, it changed everything. The Patriots were going to lose multiple members of the coaching staff, but instead it turned out to be just one big one — defensive coordinator Matt Patricia — and the organization already had a replacement in waiting with Brian Flores.

Fast forward a year to now, the organization has lost Flores to the Dolphins, and do not have an in-house replacement, as well as valued wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea and up-and-coming assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, both of whom are reportedly joining Flores’ staff in South Florida.

Belichick and Co. will need to replace three coaches and the hardest thing about it is they likely will need to come from outside the organization. Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano has been connected most to replacing Flores, and while he and Belichick have a connection, he’s never served on staff. 

This will be something to keep an eye on, as continuity with the coaching staff has been one of the most important reasons for the Patriots’ recent run of success.

Offensively, it is on a lesser scale replacing a wide receivers coach and an assistant quarterbacks coach, but also the fact there are two of the best coaching assistants in the game on that side of the ball in offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and running backs coach Ivan Fears.

Being part of a Belichick coaching staff is not like most. There is a lot demanded and is a lot different than with other teams across the league. For this reason, it’s harder to find the right people. Belichick will need to find at least two more coaches on top of likely Schiano, and then there’s also the roster that will need a lot of tweaking.

The Patriots absolutely cannot just say this current roster won a Super Bowl and bring every player back. No. 1, it was one of the worst Super Bowl teams Belichick has ever coached from a talent standpoint. And No. 2, some players have expiring contracts and have no chance of sticking around.

“It’s the National Football League,” Belichick said Monday. “Unfortunately, that’s the National Football League. Every teams turns over players and coaches every year. We’ll certainly turn over staff members. Last year, we turned them over. And again, so does every other team. That is the way it is, so whatever happens there, or doesn’t happen, we’ll continue to do what we feel is best for the football team and to be competitive in a very difficult and competitive league. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.”

While there was some roster turnover this year, there will be even more next year both via free agency and the draft.

The wide receiver position will look completely different as Julian Edelman is the only player on the active roster under contract for next season. This feels like a position that needs to be addressed high in the draft and also via free agency. Same goes for tight end, especially if Rob Gronkowski does in fact call it a career. Also, don’t forget the team needs to really start thinking about the eventual successor to Tom Brady.

On defense, if the McCourty twins retire, the safety spot will need to be addressed, and then there’s the front-seven where several defensive linemen will not be returning and a linebacker or two could always be added.

It seems like every year the same thing gets said over and over, but because the team reached the Super Bowl it is almost a month behind the rest of the league when it comes to the offseason work.

There will be a few days to soak in another Super Bowl, but after that it will be back to work for Belichick and Co.

They’re going to need it.

Related: Brian Flores admits he wasn't in rush to become head coach