For the second straight year, it looks like the New England Patriots will lose their top defensive coach. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Miami Dolphins will hire Brian Flores as their next head coach. Flores spent all of 2018 calling New England’s defense and serving as the de-facto defensive coordinator. There isn’t a clear successor in place, so let’s look at all possible New England Patriots defensive coordinator replacements.
Potential New England Patriots Defensive Coordinator Replacements If Brian Flores Leaves
The In-House Candidates
Historically, New England loves to promote their coaches from within. With Flores presumably gone, the three most likely in-house candidates are defensive line coach Brendan Daly, cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer, and safeties coach Steve Belichick.
Of this trio, Josh Boyer certainly had the edge in experience. Boyer first joined New England back in 2006 as a defensive coaching assistant before becoming the secondary/cornerbacks coach prior to the 2008 season. Head coach Bill Belichick clearly likes Boyer, seeing as he’s stayed around this long. Because of his experience, Boyer should know the defense as well as anybody. Additionally, Boyer was the defensive coordinator of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology back in 2005. Calling plays for South Dakota is a lot different from calling plays for New England, but this experience should help him naturally transition into the role.
Brendan Daly joined the Patriots back in 2014 had a wide array of experience around the league. Since 2006, Daly has coached with the Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, and the Patriots. While he’s primarily been limited to working with the defensive line, his experience around the league should help him naturally transition into a bigger role. At age 43, Daly is old enough to capably handle the job if he needs to. For what it’s worth, Daly called the defense during New England’s preseason finale, implying the Patriots would be most comfortable giving him playcalling duties.
Steve Belichick is on the outside looking in, but he still stands a shot at the job. Son of the Patriots head coach, Belichick first joined New England’s coaching staff back in 2012. However, he only earned the role of safeties coach prior to the 2016 season. While he’s not as good as his father, Belichick appears to be a young, upcoming mind. Still, this feels like a long shot. It’s more likely that Boyer or Daly get the job and Belichick gets promoted to coaching the linebackers or the defensive line.
The Outside Candidates
Of course, New England could look outside of Foxboro for their next defensive coordinator. If they do that, the most likely candidate will probably be Greg Schiano. Schiano and Belichick have a long history together and share similar defensive philosophies. Schiano was the head coach of Rutgers during the period where Bill Belichick drafted Rutgers alumnus Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, and Logan Ryan. This reunion would be easy, as Schiano and the Ohio State Buckeyes recently parted ways. If New England isn’t comfortable with their in-house replacements, look for Schiano to join the staff shortly after the 2018 season.
This one is a longshot, but it still falls within the realm of possibility. Pepper Johnson spent 16 seasons as an NFL coach, 13 of which came with the New England Patriots. While he hasn’t been a part of the organization since 2013, Johnson served as a linebackers coach from 2012 to 2013. Linebackers coach is the highest defensive positional position, so Belichick clearly saw Johnson as one of his better coaches at one point in time. Johnson is currently defensive line coach of the Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football. Johnson would likely take any job opportunity he could get in the NFL.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that Bill Belichick calls the defensive plays on his own. While it’s becoming more and more rare for head coaches to call plays, it’s certainly not unheard of. Quite frankly, there isn’t a clear choice to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Bill Belichick is arguably the greatest defensive mind of his time, so it’s not like he’s incapable of calling a defense. While it would be putting a lot on Belichick’s plate, he could easily do the job.
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