Mystery solved: Here's how the Patriots' coaching staff will line up this year

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The Patriots' coaching staff underwent many changes this offseason.

Three assistant coaches — Carmen Bricillo, Mick Lombardi and Bo Hardegree — followed Josh McDaniels to Las Vegas and longtime running backs coach Ivan Fears retired. At this point, the Patriots haven’t announced their 2022 coaching staff. And we shouldn’t expect any coach in New England to confirm a job title this season.

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“Honestly, I just like to say I’m a football coach,” Jerod Mayo said.

“I don’t really know and I don’t really care,” Steve Belichick said. “Honestly, I just love coaching football.”

The writing is on the wall, however, and we have put together the jigsaw puzzle that is the Patriots' 2022 coaching staff.

Here is how the staff should line up: :

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge talks with members of his team during the game against the Washington Football Team on  Jan. 9 in East Rutherford, N.J.
New York Giants head coach Joe Judge talks with members of his team during the game against the Washington Football Team on Jan. 9 in East Rutherford, N.J.

Quarterbacks: Joe Judge

This biggest surprise of the offseason is Judge replacing McDaniels as the Patriots' quarterbacks coach. He was the Patriots' longtime special-teams coach and coached receivers for one season. He was the head coach of the New York Giants for two years, 2020 and 2021, and said he has reached out to veteran coaches this offseason to get advice on his new role.

“I’ve reached out to a number of quarterback coaches,” Judge said. “I’ve reached out to a number of skill coaches, line coaches. I’ve talked to a lot of defensive coaches. We use the offseason to really dive into a lot of deep research. … That’s everything from drill to philosophy to maybe a specific scheme that someone runs — how they’re coaching it, what the pluses and minuses may be. We want to make sure we have all information as possible when we give it to our players we have a solid foundation to build upon with that.”

Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri watches from the sideline during the game against Texas A&M in September 2013 in College Station, Texas.
Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri watches from the sideline during the game against Texas A&M in September 2013 in College Station, Texas.

Running backs: Vinnie Sunseri

The Patriots' running back room will be different without Fears. Sunseri worked alongside the longtime assistant last season as the Patriots' running backs coach. He'll be the top coach in that room this year.

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“Nothing has changed. I’m doing exactly what I did last year — working with the running backs,” Sunseri said. “Not worried about anything else. Just trying to get these guys in the best situation possible for the season. Trying to work fundamentals in the offseason. That’s what this time is all about.”

Patriots assistant coach Troy Brown talks with reporters after a training camp practice in August at Gillette Stadium.
Patriots assistant coach Troy Brown talks with reporters after a training camp practice in August at Gillette Stadium.

Wide receivers and returners: Troy Brown

Brown returned to coaching the receiver position last year after having worked with running backs in 2020. The Pats lost receivers coach Lombardi, who went to Las Vegas, but Brown certainly has plenty of experience with this position. This group looks different with the additions of DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton.

“I’m always excited to work with every group I’ve worked with so far,” Brown said. “This group, we have some guys who’ve been around the league for a little bit and some guys who’ve grown up in this system. Hopefully have a little more experience out there … and see where we can take it from here.”

Patriots assistant coach Ross Douglas walks on the field before the game against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 17 at Gillette Stadium.
Patriots assistant coach Ross Douglas walks on the field before the game against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 17 at Gillette Stadium.

Wide receivers: Ross Douglas

Douglas was a graduate assistant at Rutgers before working as the cornerbacks coach at Richmond last spring. That lasted a few months before the Patriots hired him in June as a defensive assistant as a part of the NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship. He earned a promotion this offseason.

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“I wouldn’t call it a transition — when you’re on defense, you’re scouting and breaking down offenses all day. You kind of have an idea — I’m a secondary coach so I watch wideouts all day. … It’s a big change when you talk about offense and defense, but me and my role last year, I was studying offense so much. I don’t think it’ll be a big transition. Coaching football is coaching football.”

Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley.
Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley.

Tight ends: Nick Caley

This will be Caley's sixth season coaching tight ends. It’s a large group with Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene and Matt Sokol. Caley wouldn’t say if his role would change this season, but did acknowledge that he aspires to be an offensive coordinator.

“I’m working with the tight ends and I love the group that we have,” Caley said. “We’re just trying to work our tails off right now and get better. It’s been a good offseason so far in terms of effort, attention to detail and trying to get better.”

Matt Patricia talks with reporters as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions in 2018.
Matt Patricia talks with reporters as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions in 2018.

Offensive line: Matt Patricia

Patricia replaces Carmen Bricillo as the new offensive line coach. Assistant offensive line coach Bill Yates also returns. Patricia’s move to the offense is a surprise after he was a successful defensive coordinator with the Patriots, but he returns to the position that he coached at the start of his career.

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“I came here a long time ago and I came here as an offensive line coach,” Patricia said. “I was coaching offensive line in college, working with a great coach, George DeLeone, who passed away recently and was a phenomenal, phenomenal offensive coach, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Then to come in here and work with Dante Scarnecchia — I don’t care what position you coach in the NFL, if you have an opportunity to spend [time] with Dante, you become a better coach.”

Patriots defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington.
Patriots defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington.

Defensive line: DeMarcus Covington

This is Covington’s third season with the defensive line. His group returns all its  veterans from last season with Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, Davon Godchaux and Christian Barmore leading the way.

“Very happy," Covington said. "It’s always good when you are working with the guys who have been in the program. Especially with our guys. We’ve got some veteran guys coming back within our program — two guys in their sixth year, a second year, third year, so it's good because we can continue to hit the foundation that we left off from the previous year and continue to stack on their games.”

Patriots inside linebacker coach Jerod Mayo on the sideline during the game against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 28 in Foxboro.
Patriots inside linebacker coach Jerod Mayo on the sideline during the game against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 28 in Foxboro.

Inside linebackers: Jerod Mayo

This is Mayo’s fourth season as the inside linebackers coach. The linebackers group has changed more than any position in Foxboro this offseason with Kyle Van Noy gone and Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins unsigned.

“Of course you always miss the presence of a guy like Hightower, Kyle and Jamie. They played a lot of good football for us,” Mayo said. “That being said, I’d say this group, they bring a lot of energy to the table. ... We all miss those guys but, at the same time, we know we have to move on. ... We know it’ll be a collaborative effort to get the job done and replace those future Patriots Hall of Famers. “

Patriots assistant coach Steve Belichick on the sideline with his boss, and father, nearby.
Patriots assistant coach Steve Belichick on the sideline with his boss, and father, nearby.

Outside linebackers: Steve Belichick

This is Belichick’s third season as the team’s outside linebackers coach. He’s also the defensive play caller. His group has undergone a youth movement after the departures of some veterans.   Players such as Josh Uche and Ronnie Perkins could step up this season, he said.

“Excited to work with these guys,” said the head coach's son. “They’ve all been around this offseason. … The room changes every year. You get what you get and we’re always excited about it. Have some new faces in there a little bit and also some returning faces. We’re excited to get out on the field next week for [organized team activities, or OTAs]." 

Cornerbacks: Mike Pellegrino

Patriots cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino.
Patriots cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino.

This is Pellegrino’s fourth season as the Patriots' cornerbacks coach. His group has certainly undergone a lot of changes with J.C. Jackson no longer on the roster. The Pats added two veterans, Malcolm Butler and Terrance Mitchell, and two rookies, Marcus Jones and Jack Jones, to the depth chart.

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“At the end of the day, we’re trying to win football games," Pellegrino said. "The best guy is going to play. The best three, the best four, the best five. If you have to rotate five guys, if you have to rotate four. … If you’re a good football player, you find yourself on the football field.”

Patriots assistant coach Brian Belichick will have a strong group of veteran safeties to work with this season.
Patriots assistant coach Brian Belichick will have a strong group of veteran safeties to work with this season.

Safeties: Brian Belichick

This is Belichick’s third season coaching safeties in New England. He’ll coach one of the most stacked position groups on this team with Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger and newcomer Jabrill Peppers.

“It’s a lot of fun. I’ve been blessed,” Belichick said. “This will be my third year coaching back there with the [defensive backs]. We’ve had a great, pretty consistent safety group that has been able to lead the room since I’ve been a position coach. It’s been great every year. It’s always good to add another experienced, productive player, which is what Jabrill has been for a long time.”

Patriots special teams coordinator Cameron Achord.
Patriots special teams coordinator Cameron Achord.

Special teams: Cameron Achord

This will be Achord’s third season as the Patriots' special teams coordinator. Assistant special teams coach Joe Houston also returns. Last year, this group was underwhelming as Jake Bailey had three punts blocked. No other team had more than one blocked in 2021.

“It goes back to ... fundamentals,” Achord said. “I say that a lot but that’s the answer. If your fundamentals are good and techniques are good, that handles your issues or anything that shows up. We’ve got to really stress that. We’ll be harping that — fundamentals, techniques and doing them consistently.”

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Here's what the 2022 New England Patriots coaching staff should look like