FOXBORO, Mass. — There are sounds of excitement coming from Foxboro in regard to Matt Patricia's job change. Patricia, who coached the Pats' linebackers for the last five seasons, will be in charge of the safeties in 2011, and that move should help the development of a promising young group.
The 36-year-old is very well-respected by his players, and they love his football mind and coaching ability. While the linebackers will miss him, they’ve been very comfortable working with Patrick Graham, who earned a promotion after working as a defensive assistant.
Patricia, who graduated from RPI and is literally a rocket scientist, has a very bright future in the NFL and might be the most promising assistant on Bill Belichick’s staff. While it’s been falsely suggested that Patricia was the defensive coordinator in 2010 — he was the play-caller, but Belichick was the true coordinator who ran the meetings and implemented the game plan — the belief is that he’ll take over the defense at some point during his tenure in New England, and that could be the final stepping stone before becoming a serious head coaching candidate.
The Patriots haven’t explained the logic behind changing Patricia’s job title, but it’s likely due to two things. First, the team was unhappy with Corwin Brown’s job as the safeties coach in 2010, and after parting ways with him, there was a need at that position. Due to the constant stream of high praise for Patricia, it’s plausible the Patriots are hoping he can really develop that group of safeties, who are headlined by a pair of young players in Patrick Chung and Brandon Meriweather.
Second, it could be because the Patriots want Patricia to gain experience coaching a different position, and that would make him a more well-rounded coordinator some day.
Cornerback Devin McCourty has never worked directly with Patricia from a positional sense, but he was intrigued by the announcement.
"It will be cool," McCourty said. "With the linebackers last year, we were already close to him because the secondary and the linebackers have to be on the same page a lot of times. Having Matty P. back there will be cool. The only thing I’m disappointed is that he cut all of his hair and his beard off. That was kind of his mojo."
So, aside from the fact that he shed the caveman look, the Patriots are excited about Patricia’s potential while guiding the safeties in 2011.