BOSTON (CBS) — The free-agent departure of Tom Brady is not the only major change for the Patriots this season. In fact, the team lost someone who’s been with the franchise much, much longer than the quarterback.
That person, of course, is Dante Scarnecchia, the legendary offensive line coach who officially retired after 36 years as an NFL coach — 34 of which were with the Patriots.
The 72-year-old previously retired in 2014, replaced by Dave DeGuglielmo. But even though the Patriots won a Super Bowl in 2014, the new offensive line coach didn’t last long, as DeGuglielmo was fired and Scarnecchia returned in 2016. The Patriots made it to three straight Super Bowls, winning two of them, after Scarnecchia’s return.
This time, Scarnecchia won’t be returning. And though Bill Belichick has not officially named his replacement, the offensive line will be overseen by Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo.
Speaking to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Scarnecchia offered his assessment of the two coaches who will be working to fill his shoes.
“They’re both really good coaches and both really good people,” Scarnecchia told Reiss. “Very, very smart guys. I know no one has been named, and there are reasons for that, but clearly those are the two guys that are going to do it, and I think they’ll do an outstanding job.”
Popovich will be entering his sixth season as a Patriots coach. He was the assistant running backs coach last year, after spending four years as a coaching assistant. Last year was Bricillo’s first year with the Patriots, after he coached the offensive line at Youngstown State for nine years.
Scarnecchia said the fact that his replacements have worked in the Patriots’ system will help make the transition smooth.
“The other thing is they know the players,” Scarnecchia told Reiss. “It’s not like they’re new, coming in from the outside. They’ve both been around there — especially Cole, who has been in the system for five years. Carm for one.”