Bill Belichick’s comfort in the Patriots’ OC search reveals everything

Everything is shut down as we wait for the white smoke to rise over a veterans site, an actual, real-life homosapien chosen to run the title of Veterans Offensive and just like you’ve seen on TV.

When that news drops, we’ll delve into either: a) why Bill O’Brien’s hiring meant the Patriots turned to him or, b) why the Patriots couldn’t get Bill O’Brien.

If we wait, we can credit the Patriots for throwing a wider net against OC than they did last season, when they didn’t throw a net at all.

But the network is still not big. If you are not a friend of Bill B, you do not need to apply.

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Every netizen has a Belichick tie. Former Patriots OT Adrian Klem was a second round draft pick of the Patriots in 2000. Keenan McCardell played for Belichick in Cleveland. Sean Jefferson played wide receiver for the Patriots in the mid-to-late 90s and overlapped with Belichick in 1996. Nick Kaley has been on staff as tight ends coach since 2015. And obviously O’Brien was here.

The industry is full of offensive coaches with new ideas and approaches.

But it seems the only way to get an audience with Bill is by being previously employed by him (Clem, McCardell, O’Brien) or sharing a locker room (Jefferson). It doesn’t matter if he has to go to three decades to get that tie, if it’s there, no. 1 Qualification Satisfied. Then he will deign to give the audience.

The fraternal approach has an obvious side. Acquaintance.

Coaches who have been around Belichick know the expectations, the hours and the minimum pay. Belichick knows what “good” football is. They know because they trained together. Or those hired by him in the early 20s with common interests like lacrosse (Mike Pellegrino), learn “good football” and don’t know any other way to attack the job.

For years, the Patriots’ staff was primarily handled by Belichick’s teammates, such as Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. Then, when those coaches moved on, young coaches who had been scouted by playing for Nick Saban (Josh McDaniel, Brian Daboll, for example), the Browns ballboys (Eric Mangini) or Belichick (Pepper Johnson) were hired and moved up the ranks. Positions.

The whole industry is a “who do you know…” business. Most of them are. But the Patriots are the most tribal team in the league. A closed loop. Bill Belichick’s comfort level dominates them all.

Why did he continue to draft players from Rutgers? Because his son Stephen played for head coach Greg Schiano. Belichick acknowledged Schiano (who spent three days as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator in 2019). Stephen can confirm. Rutgers became a veteran farm team.

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The Patriots have been exceptionally tough on Urban Meyer players from both Florida and Ohio State over the past decade. In 14 of Belichick’s 23 drafts, he took multiple players from the same school. There are the usual suspects — LSU and Alabama players leading Saban. But two from Pat Hill’s Fresno State program in 2005, two from Texas A&M in 2003, two from Georgia in 2018.

Once Belichick feels good about a program and the guy running it, he keeps coming back to it. That worked well with Logan Mankins and James Sanders (Fresno) or Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan (Rutgers). Not so with Meyers players like Chad Jackson, Jermaine Cunningham or Aaron Hernandez.

Not everyone is “man-made” forever. Trust can evaporate. Ask Mangini. or Flores. But if you stay on the right side of the bill, Foxboro can be a safe harbor for friends turned cold.

In the year He came to work for the Patriots for two years in 2014 when Mike Lombardi was fired by the Browns. In the year After Matt Patricia was fired by the Lions in 2020, Belichick brought him in to keep him busy and to lick his professional wounds. Joe Judge was fired by the Giants. He returned to New England and landed. In each of those cases, the former team was on the hook to pay the balance of the contract, possibly with some compensation from the veterans.

The Patriots avoid collecting the full load by calling these men “consultants” and letting their former employers continue to pay them. The Razorbacks Foundation actually sued former University of Arkansas head coach Brett Bielema and the Patriots after Bielema took a low-paying job with the Patriots and continued to collect the $12M buyout from the foundation.

Patriots counsel Brandon Bigelow argued, “The Patriots have to give Mr. Bielema could have been paid a fair and reasonable sum for this job and no doubt much less for the work he did. …

“It’s clear that what the foundation is doing is seeking unfair advantage over a simple contract dispute with a former coach. . . . If this case goes forward, you have to wonder how the foundation will look to others for giving a fired college football coach a chance and opposing and harassing a professional football team.”

Ironically, both Bielema and Lombardi left with the Patriots when their contracts with their former employers expired and the Patriots started paying them. We see the same thing happen with Patricia, whose Lions deal is now up. I’m hearing he might be out.

It’s an angle. The person who wins is working at Belichick’s right hand. Veterans get jobs at discounted rates. The competition to stay in Belichick’s good graces is fierce.

What is the downside of this fraternity relationship in relation to this coaching search?

A pool of young people willing to work long hours for short pay must be of ambiguous rank. Otherwise, you will be low on future candidates. Especially if a coach is hired elsewhere and invades your staff. As Belichick did when he came to New England in 2000.

The past decade of team success fueled by Brady has seen young coaches and executives flee for new jobs. McDaniels, Patricia, Brian Flores by Coach; Nick Caserio and Monty Osenfort on the staff side. They go, they bring their coach friends, the staff is reduced. And the pool of experienced replacements continues to shrink.

The strides Belichick has taken with coaches and executives due to age and luck are unprecedented. That cannot be discounted. And no one knows that better than Belichick.

But Belichick’s discomfort with coaching flight and willingness to reward loyalty come at a cost. With Josh McDaniel out, Nick Caley checked all the boxes last season. Calley went to John Carroll, as did McDaniel and Caserio. He worked for Bielema at Arkansas. In the year

He made perfect sense as McDaniel’s replacement, even though the team gave him the title of OC. Instead, the Patriots barred Kaley from going to Las Vegas with McDaniel and instead opted to make Patricia — who is overrated in the role — playcaller/offensive coordinator.

What did Kaley do in 2022 that qualified him for an interview during his absence last January? “What’s best for the football team?” Patricia was pressing. Because Kaley (who was out of contract after 2022) was the X-factor? Or was it the simplest thing and the one that made Belichick the most comfortable?

O’Brien is clearly a highly qualified candidate. With experience as a head coach in college and the NFL, and as a high-level OC, he is a leader by a long shot. But each candidate’s experience level — especially after last season’s overhaul — is modest. None of them were OCs in the NFL. All will have a learning curve if employed. But the box they ticked — knowing Bill Belichick and giving them an appreciation for Luck Bill — is the most important box.

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