"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too;
– Rudyard Kipling
They are young, talented and under huge pressure to push a 14-2 New England Patriots team into the Super Bowl. Here are the four coaches that we think are pivitol to the Patriots success for the 2011 season. No one really thinks past Belichick that there's anyone out there making the calls, but there are other coaches on this staff. Let's take a look.
Brian Ferentz had a good hook up with his father Kirk, who worked under Belichick in Cleveland. That's what people know, but what they don't know is Brian played for Kirk at Iowa from 2001-2005 on the offensive line. He came to New England in 2008 as a scouting assistant and then promoted to coaching assistant in 2009. In 2010, he was named Tight Ends coach and in charge of two rookie talents that would shine under him in his first year. Rob Gronkowski set the franchise record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with 10. Hernandez, who caught a Patriots rookie tight end record 45 receptions, also added six touchdowns. As the season progressed, both became adept at reading zone defenses. Ferentz faces the challenge of pushing those young talents to get the most out of them.
Matt Patricia didn't have a hook up but he would sleep in the office, and that's the kind of love of football Belichick loves. When you say that football isn't rocket science, Patricia very well could have been one as he graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. However, he chose the gridiron and joined the Patriots after being an graduate assistant at Syracuse in 2004. Bill has a plan for Patricia, as he started him out as an offensive assistant and then moved him to the defensive side of the ball. There he took over for Dean Pees when Romeo Crennel moved on. In 2011 Patricia will again move to safety showing that Belichick wants him to know all aspects of the game. Matt is highly regarded around the NFL and can soon become a hot commodity. Belichick chose to go with a defense by commitee coachwise for a reason - he wanted to stop the raids by other teams on his young coaches.
Pepper Johnson would seemly fit nicely into the DC role and has the credentials no one on the staff can match - five Super Bowl rings. He's followed Belichick from player to coach, from New York Giants to Cleveland Browns and then to the New England Patriots. One might think 'why has it taken so long, as he has been on the staff since 2000' ? He's coached the linebackers and now the defensive line but still no DC. He's a 60 Max favorite - his passion and vocal sytle makes him the type of DC that the player would die for. We can't stop looking back to 2001 in the SB, when Pepper ,with 2:00 minutes left, screaming to the defense "Get your rest!". He's just that mix of former player and coach that gets your attention. He always has a great relationship with his players and is creative in teaching them techniques and fundamentals.
After 14 seasons coaching at the college level, including stops at Georgia Tech (1995-2002) and Maryland (2003-04), Bill O'Brien served as wide receivers coach in 2008, after joining the Patriots as a coaching assistant in 2007. Bill was then moved to quarterbacks coach in 2009, but in title only was he the QB coach - in essence, he was the defacto OC. O'brien has some shoes to fill as the previous two OC's were Josh McDaniels and Charlie Weis... Yikes. In 2009, he looked like he just didn't grasp the offense enough to command Brady's full respect. Honestly, it's a hard spot to slide into when your suddenly Tom Brady's OC. How do you tell him when he's off? What do you say to the guy who threw 50 TD passes in a record setting offense. In 2009, O'Biren said do your thing Tom, I'm going to stand right here if you need me sir. It was painfully apparent in their first meeting against the Jets, where a last minute injury to Wes Welker left the offense void of their best WR. O'Brien had no plan B and the Patriots offense stayed in the same 3 Wide formation virtually all game. But in 2010, O'brien shed his skin and came to age as the implementation of the Saint's offense and new focus on the tight ends gave him plenty of chalkboard draw ups. He took control of the offense, telling Randy Moss that the ball wasn't going to be thrown or forced to him if he isn't open or running lazy routes. O'brien moved the offense in the direction of the old Patriot scheme of short passing and quick throws. He showed during the 2010 season that he could direct a diverse attack and yes, give Brady sound advice he could trust.