Greg Schiano was always meant to ride Bill Belichick's coattails

Alex Reimer
February 06, 2019 - 1:50 pm

New Patriots defensive coordinator Greg Schiano has never previously worked alongside Bill Belichick, but he pledges his allegiance to The Hoodie like he came up through the darkened video rooms in Foxboro. 

New England officially hired Schiano Wednesday to take over its vacant defensive coordinator position, the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride reports. There was no defensive coordinator last season, though linebackers coach Brian Flores served as the de-facto play-caller. He was rewarded the Dolphins’ head coaching job for his work.

Belichick’s coördinators are usually supporting figures, especially on the defensive side of the ball, so Schiano’s disastrous autocratic reign in Tampa Bay shouldn’t be much of a concern. But still, it’s worth noting just how terribly Schiano’s two-year stint with the Buccaneers went. In addition to being dismissed after an 11-21 run, his players lambasted the austere atmosphere he created.

"How bad is it there? It's worse than you can imagine," an ex-Bucs player told NFL Media’s Mike Silver in 2013. “It's like being in Cuba.”

According to Silver’s story, one moment in training camp 2012 really set Schiano’s players off. While they were engaged in joint practices with the Patriots, Schiano told them to listen to Belichick as if he were their own coach.

"He gathered us before we practiced and told us that if Belichick said something to us on the field, we should listen,” a Bucs player told Silver. “He said, 'Treat their coaches like they're your coaches.' We were like, 'Huh?' When we practiced together, whatever Belichick wanted, he did. It was hilarious -- here (Schiano) is, acting like Mr. Tough Guy all the time, and when Belichick wanted something, he was like, 'Yes, Bill.’”

It's not surprising Schiano supposedly told his players to act like they were playing for Belichick, because he sometimes acted like he was working for the Patriots while in Tampa Bay. Schiano traded Aqib Talib and LeGarrette Blount to the Pats during his brief stint heading the Bucs organization. He also lost Darrelle Revis, who wound up signing with New England in free agency. 

Belichick and Schiano struck up a strong friendship ever since Schiano coached Belichick’s son, Steve, at Rutgers, which he turned into a respectable Division 1 program. The Patriots have drafted numerous Rutgers defensive players over the years, including Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon.

Steve Belichick is now on the Patriots' staff, serving as the secondary coach. 

The love between Belichick and Schiano appears to be mutual. Belichick spoke out on in support of Schiano when he was a candidate to be hired as the head coach at Tennessee. The university eventually nixed its plans following protests over Schiano’s alleged knowledge of Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse at Penn State. In a deposition, former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary claims Schiano told him in the early 1990s he had witnessed Sandusky fondling a boy in the team showers. Schiano vehemently denies the accusation, as does one of the school's trustees

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Greg and the way he runs his program and the job that he does,” Belichick said about Schiano in November 2017.

Belichick is still hands-on with the defense, even coaching his defensive linemen on the sidelines to rush vertically in Super Bowl XLIII, so Schiano’s impact will likely be minimal. He seems poised to ride Belichick’s coattails, which is the natural role for him. 

Related: Patriots reportedly hire Greg Schiano to replace Brian Flores