The New England Patriots and Cole Popovich are headed for a parting of the ways.
The 36-year-old Popovich, who spent 2020 as the Pats’ co-offensive line coach (alongside Carmen Bricillo), reportedly will not coach with the team in 2021.
While Jim McBride of the Boston Globe was the first to report Popovich’s decision to leave the Patriots’ coaching staff, ESPN’s Mike Reiss subsequently reported that the reason for the departure stems from the COVID-19 vaccine guidelines set forth by the NFL.
Popovich had been a member of the Patriots coaching staff since joining the team as a coaching assistant in 2016. During that span, he served a variety of roles. Popovich was named the Pats’ assistant running backs coach in 2019.
Following the retirement of long-time offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, both Popovich and Bricillo were elevated to the role of co-offensive line coaches. Prior to his arrival in New England, Popovich coached at the collegiate level for five seasons, including stints at Los Angeles Valley College, Fresno City College, Utah State University, and Minot State University.
For 2021, Bricillo is expected to individually assume the Pats’ offensive line coaching duties. He began his college coaching career at his alma mater (Duquesne), where he was the team's offensive line coach in 2005. From 2006 to 2008, he worked as a coaching assistant at Akron. After spending the 2009 season as an offensive assistant coach at Illinois, he coached the offensive line at Youngstown State for the next nine seasons. Bricillo was hired by the Patriots in 2019 as a coaching assistant, before being named a co-offensive line coach with Popovich in 2020.