ATLANTA — The New England Patriots’ two longest-tenured assistant coaches both will be back with the team in 2019.
Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and running backs coach Ivan Fears confirmed Monday at Super Bowl Opening Night they will remain on Bill Belichick’s coaching staff next season.
Scarnecchia, who will turn 71 next month, landed his first Patriots coaching job in 1982 — nearly two decades before Belichick took over head-coaching duties in 2000. He’s coached New England’s O-line for 18 of the last 20 seasons — returning from a temporary retirement in 2016 — and is considered one of the NFL’s best position coaches.
“I love my job,” Scarnecchia said. “I love coaching football. I’ve done it for 47 years, so I’ve been really blessed. I’ve really been blessed. … This isn’t easy, long hours. But the rewards are high if you have the kind of team that we have. We’ve been very fortunate — unbelievably fortunate.”
Fears, 64, also predates the Belichick era. He coached Patriots wide receivers from 1991 to 1992 and 1999 to 2001 before shifting to running backs in 2002.
“Bill tells me I can’t (retire),” Fears told reporters, via WEEI.com. “Sooner or later my body is going to tell me, but I am not ready yet. Someone else will make that decision for me because I don’t have always have control over that.”
Fears’ and Scarnecchia’s units combined to produce one of the most effective rushing offenses in the NFL this season. New England ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing yards and tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns, with rookie Sony Michel leading the way with 931 rushing yards and six scores.
The Patriots are expected to lose at least one assistant coach this offseason, as linebackers coach/de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores is set to become the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins after Super Bowl LIII, according to multiple reports.
Flores also reportedly is interested in hiring Patriots wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea as his offensive coordinator in Miami.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images