The New England Patriots didn’t play this weekend, but the team’s fingerprints were all over the NFL’s two wild-card round underdog winners.
The Atlanta Falcons, who upset the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night, are run by general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who served as director of college scouting in New England, and assistant general manager Scott Pioli, an ex-Patriots vice president of player personnel.
Former Patriots director of college scouting Jon Robinson runs New England’s divisional-round opponent, the Tennessee Titans, as their general manager. The Titans upset the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night.
Dimitroff and Robinson are two of four NFL personnel decision-makers with a Patriots pedigree. Bob Quinn, a former Patriots director of pro scouting, is general manager of the Detroit Lions, who barely missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record and might steal New England’s defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, to serve as head coach.
Former Patriots director of player personnel Jason Licht is GM of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who finished with a 5-11 record.
The guys who run personnel behind Bill Belichick don’t generally last long in their roles. So, it was unsurprising when the Houston Texans requested to interview longtime Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio and director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort. Caserio, who has shown a hesitance to leave New England in the past, has been in his role since 2008. Perhaps that’s why the Texans doubled up by requesting Ossenfort, who is blocked by Caserio for the top role behind Belichick and has been in his current position since 2014.
Ossenfort, like all personnel execs in his role, travels the country scouting players during the college football season, while Caserio is able to stay centralized in New England with a hands-on role. Landing a job as general manager would give Ossenfort a more stable position. He’s learned under Belichick for 13 years.
What is surprising is the Patriots turned down the Texans’ requests. Per a new league rule, Houston still can interview Caserio and Ossenfort after New England’s season is over if it wants to wait that long.
This is theorizing, but Belichick also might have turned down the request to save Caserio and Ossenfort from entering a messy situation.
The Texans’ general managerial job is open because Rick Smith is stepping away for a year to care for his wife and family while she undergoes treatment for breast cancer. The plan is for him to return as vice president of football operations but not as general manager if someone else is hired.
There also were reports that Smith’s relationship with Texans head coach Bill O’Brien’s had turned “toxic.” So, between that dynamic and the fact that the former general manager eventually is set to return in a more powerful position, that might not be the best situation to enter as a first-time GM, even though O’Brien is a former Patriots offensive coordinator.
Given the success of Dimitroff, Pioli, Robinson and Quinn, it’s unlikely this is the last time Caserio or Ossenfort is requested for a GM interview. Caserio certainly doesn’t seem to be in a rush to leave Belichick and the Patriots, though, and Ossenfort already being requested for interviews is a good sign for his future in the league.
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