FOXBOROUGH — Consistency and continuity remain a sizable part of what has made the Patriots so successful over the last dozen-plus year. And heading into 2017, it appears to be more of them same.
That’s true not only up and down the roster, but also when it comes to the coaching staff. Since Bill Belichick was named head coach in 2000, through the end of the 2016 regular season, 23 different head coaches were employed in the AFC East. And the Patriots triumvirate of Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia have been together in the same roles since 2012, a span of five seasons. In NFL, that’s a lifetime. You have a system in place. You have coaches who have a familiarity with each other. It makes everything easier.
"Continuity is huge in the NFL," Tom Brady told WEEI late last season. "I've been in the same offense for 17 years and played for just a couple of coordinators [and] one head coach. Our system's been in place."
While there were some tweaks made to the coaching staff this past offseason — tight ends coach Brian Daboll left to become the offensive coordinator at Alabama — the fundamental core of coaches is still in place at the start of training camp. That gives the Patriots an edge, and allowed them to keep pace with the league through what turned out to be a truncated offseason because of the deep postseason run.
“Those guys were able to – when I say those guys, the entire staff – were able to get into things pretty quickly,” Belichick said Wednesday when asked about having McDaniels and Patricia in place. “There wasn’t really a catching new staff members up or bringing them up to speed or going over things. Pretty much everybody’s been through everything that we’re doing, both in the offseason and the regular season, our game preparation and so forth – not that we don’t have a lot of work to do. I’m not saying that, but at least we have a level of experience of all doing together. So, yeah, it’s good.
“Our entire staff does a good job. They work together on their respective sides of the ball,” he added. “It’s a good, cohesive staff that works well together. We have a lot of good people.”
To Belichick’s point, it’s not just the coordinators who have been in place for an extended stretch. Ivan Fears is going into his 17th season as New England’s running backs coach, while offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has coached 45 years, including 32 on the Patriots’ sideline. In New England, there’s a familiarity and coaching shorthand there that’s hard to replicate.
“[You] know what to expect of one another. They know what to expect of us. I think that stuff makes it so much easier. I don’t know if I would have ever come back if Josh [McDaniels] wasn’t here. That was one of the huge reasons,” Scarnecchia said. “Really, a good bunch of guys to be around in every respect. You come into the office every day and egos are checked at the door. Just a healthy environment.”