As The Godfather's Michael Corleone said, “If I ever need help, who is a better consigliere than my father?’
With a shroud of uncertainty still covering the 2022 New England Patriots coaching staff, outside linebackers coach Stephen Belichick, son of Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, seems pretty content with continuing on in the status quo.
Bill Belichick, Stephen Belichick
Bill Belichick, Stephen Belichick Walk to Practice
Bill Belichick, Stephen Belichick Look On During a Game
Speaking with the media for the first time during the offseason, the Pats de facto defensive play caller indicated that while his role for 2022 has yet to be defined, he is more than willing to do what is best for the football team.
“I don’t really know,” Belichick said when asked about his duties for the upcoming season. “Honestly I don’t care. I just enjoy coaching football. I’m happy to be on defense. Whatever they need me to do…I’ll do it.”
Belichick has been with the Patriots since being hired in 2012 as a coaching assistant, a position in which he would serve for four seasons before being named safeties coach prior to the start of the 2016 season. He was part of the Patriots coaching staff which led the team to a 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
After top defensive assistant Brian Flores left to become the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2019, Belichick assumed defensive play calling duties previously held by Flores, while moving from safeties coach to outside linebackers coach. Stephen Belichick’s brother Brian succeeded him by coaching safeties.
Belichick continued to hold the aforementioned dual roles through the 2021 season. However, after a 9-4 start last year, the Patriots defensive performance sharply declined. New England lost four of their final five games, ultimately finishing their season with a 47-17 playoff road loss against the Buffalo Bills. The defending AFC East Champions scored a touchdown on seven straight possessions; neither having to punt or kick a field goal.
Since the conclusion to the 2021 season, speculation has been rampant that the team’s lack of an official defensive coordinator may have caused confusion among the Pats players on the preventive side of the ball. As a result, Belichick’s play calling may have lost some of its effectiveness, in game settings; primarily in a very tough stretch to close the season.
While Belichick is expected to retain his duties as play caller, he will have ample help with the role from inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo. He will also be able to lean upon the wisdom and counsel of former Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and former special teams coordinator Joe Judge, both of whom are expected to play prominent roles on New England’s 2022 offensive coaching staff.
Matt Patricia, Bill Belichick
Joe Judge, Bill Belichick
Jerod Mayo, Bill Belichick
Still, Belichick remains mum on any potential implementation of a designated defensive coordinator.
“That’s a great question, which frankly I don’t have the answer to,” Belichick said of whether the possibility was discussed. “If I am, great…if not, that’s great too.”
Ultimately, Belichick will be ready for the upcoming season, regardless of his official title. While he has historically surrounded himself with talented defensive minds, he still takes his cues from the lessons learned from his father. Though the elder Belichick receives valuable insight from his staff, there is little doubt about who has the final say in Foxboro.
“Bill [Belichick] wears every hat in the building,” Belichick said of his father and head coach. “I’ve enjoyed learning all aspects [of coaching the game] from him. I would not anticipate that changing.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same…especially in New England.