Roundtable: Are The Departures Too Much?

Will Belichick be smiling in 2009?

Our team experts share their opinions on what will happen to the Patriots after seeing the abundance of staff leave for other teams. Will New England be able to continue their winning ways?

1) What was your first reaction to hearing that Josh McDaniels had become the Denver Broncos new head coach?

LoVell Parkman: Good for him, but I don't think he is ready to be head coach yet. he still had room to go as an offensive coordinator as far as making in game adjustments is concerned. I believe he will struggle greatly in that aspect.

Kevin Saleeba: I was surprised the Broncos were taking a chance on such a young coach at age 32, but it seems other NFL teams desperately want that Patriots karma.

Shane Leketa: Well, as we have seen many times in the past, lets look at the scenarios:
Coach wins games.
Coordinators are hallowed as being the best.
Coach loses coordinators to other positions (head coach).
Coordinators do NOTHING outside of New England (Romeo, Charlie and Eric).
Coach wins games ... and so the cycle begins over and over.
One consistent here is, Bill Belichick wins no matter who moves on.

Jon Scott: I thought McDaniels was wise to wait one more season last year. He said he wasn't ready and in reality he needed time to find a way to build his staff without taking coaches from New England with him, like Mangini tried. With another season under his belt, McDaniels was able to learn the nuances of defenses that he needed to get under his belt If he hopes to be successful as a head coach. I still think he's a bit young to be head coach, but he obviously has talent and knows how to develop quarterbacks.


2) What was your reaction to hearing the Eric Mangini was named head coach in Cleveland? Do you think the Browns should have hired a GM first?

LP: It stinks being a Browns fan. No one else was talking to Mangini. He had just got fired roughly two weeks before he got hired. Bad and stupid move by Cleveland. Do you think the Browns should have hired a GM first? They should have. Already a precedent is taking place. Most GM's want to hire their own coach.

KS: My first thought was the "Rat" was going to the dog pound? My next thought was are the Browns just going to keep hiring former Patriots coordinators or do they have a real plan for the future? It's puzzling why they would hire a coach before finding a new GM. Then may last thought was who cares about the Browns, they will fire Mangini in three years, just like they fired Romeo. That organization is a mess!

SL: Wait, is the owner of the Cleveland Browns going for a Ex-New England Patriot feel for his team? First Romeo Crennel, Willie McGinest and now Eric Mangini? Look, like my last comment, until someone proves this pattern incorrect, I just don't see a recipe for success in Cleveland hiring Eric Mangini. I do feel that they should have taken a look at front office and built from the top. Mangini will be a figurehead that will fall if they falter. A good solid foundation of a GM and coach on the same page and following the same vision is what is required.

JS: I think the hire was a reach by Browns owner Randy Lerner. The part that makes sense is Mangini will benefit from the foundation that Romeo Crennel put in place with players who are schooled in the Patriots 3-4 defensive scheme, so that part was good. The bad part is Mangini is over his head in my opinion. Bill Belichick spend a large part of his time contributing to the Patriots defense, and you can see him teaching players detectably both during camp and in games. He didn't do that on offense, which is why the Browns should have gone after an Offensive coach and hired Mangini as a defensive coordinator, or added someone familiar with the 3-4 scheme. I believe the Browns situation is a disaster waiting to happen.


3) Scott Pioli is going to run the football operations in Kansas City now. Does it surprise you that he decided to leave New England?

LP: It did not surprise me. I figured he would leave one day. The money is better than he would have made in New England and he will get to be away from the shadow of Belechick. Do you think he'll be as successful there? The Chiefd have a good young nucleus because of last years draft and pick in a good spot in this years draft. Belichick made all of the final decisions in New England but Scott still did well helping New England become a power in the NFL. I think he will do good in Kansas City.

KS: I'm not surprised he left. To marry Bill Parcells' daughter just shows Pioli must have some high opinion of himself and with that kind of ego, much like his father-in-law, he could only stay under the shadow of Bill Belichick for so long. However, unless he gets rid of Herm Edwards and gets a real head coach, he will fail in Kansas City.

SL: Simple answer .. Yes. Scott Pioli has a vision and his track record shows this. He has been successful because of his mix of growing talent and also recruiting others to work in an environment and landscape of free agency. The only true unknown is if he can work with Herm Edwards' predecessor to create the same camaraderie that Belichick and he had in New England. I am not really surprised about this move seeing the demographic that Pioli was looking for ... closer to home and family and I am sure that he and Kraft and Belichick discussed this and the contingency plan after he leaves. I don't think that Bob Kraft would have just let him go if there weren't a mutual respectable agreement by all parties.

JS: It was one of those now or never situations in my opinion. I do think that the Cleveland scenario was better suited fro Pioli, but the Kansas City ownership group is more stable and therefore more attractive. After following the process so closely, I can see why Pioli opted to go to KC over Cleveland, even though I think he would win sooner in Cleveland. Pioli was living in Bill Belichick's shadow in New England, and it's something he reportedly didn't mind doing because they were good friends. By leaving, Pioli can remain friends with Belichick, but can make a significant jump in both authority and compensation. It was time, and it's not surprising.


4) What do you think is going to have the biggest impact on the Patriots (McDaniels, Pioli departures, or Eric Mangini hiring former Patriots assistants in Cleveland?

LP: I would say McDaniels/Pioli departures. What have the former Patriots assistants won without the Patriots? And keep in mind no matter who he hires Mangini is still coach. Poor Cleveland. The silence you here are Browns fans running to ebay to sell their tickets.

KS: I think losing Pioli will have the biggest impact. Pioli and Belichick just worked well together. You just can't match that track record they had together and losing Pioli has got to have some effect on how they scout and acquire players.

SL: This one is obvious. Scott Pioli's departure will hurt the recruiting process and maximization of mediocre talent into superstars. I feel that with the recent additions of Brandon Meriweather and Jerod Mayo, this is where the future of this team lies. This was in large thanks to Scott Pioli and his alignment of vision with the Krafts and Belichick. Hopefully Pioli's replacement will be just as effective in bringing Belichick's plan to fruition with the talent on the field and through effective drafting.

JS: I would say the departure of McDaniels over the others. As much flack as McDaniels has taken in recent years for his playcalling, the rapport he developed with Tom Brady and the development of Matt Cassel were impressive accomplishments. McDaniels morphed the Patriots double tight end two back offense into a spread attack with varying degrees of check downs. The Patriots set the NFL on fire with Brady and still managed to win 11 games with Cassel. Pioli wasn't the final decision maker on personnel matters so his contributions - although significant - are slightly less than McDaniels. Mangini will have the same issues in Cleveland he had in New York. Only now he has a quarterback, a top wide receiver and a top tight end to help him over the hump.


5) Can Bill Belichick continue the success the patriots have had in recent years without Pioli by his side?

LP: Yes, after all he made the final decisions on matters anyway. The new guy they hire just has to be able to evaluate talent…the kind of talent that the Patriots are looking for.

KS: I think it's going to be tougher for Belichick, but he still has the Kraft family and Tom Brady in his back pocket. This is something Pioli does not have in Kansas City.

SL: Well, let's take a look at how Belichick's system works. You take average, to just above average talent players and you bring them together as one on a team. The sum of these parts basically doing their jobs makes an entire team successful. I think that if Belichick can keep creating playmakers out of castoffs and young talent, Belichick will still be able to continue his success. The true question will be if Tom Brady is healthy and Belichick can rely on his star quarterback to help make another run in 2009.

JS: I think Pioli was a very important cog in the wheel. You don't just keep rolling like things are normal when you remove the cog, you have to spend time and energy to make sure whatever piece you put in its place works. I think Pioli knew Belichick so well, that the scouting and Draft process became almost second nature. Though the reality is that Belichick had final say on personnel decisions, Pioli was able to find players to fit the system. The Patriots last Draft will probably turn out to be one of Pioli's best from top to bottom in three years from now. It's ironic, considering how poor the public grades were on Pioli's last two Drafts.


6) Do you think the Patriots need to hire people from the outside to rebuild their staff, or can they promote from within?

LP: If Capers leaves then they should go outside to see if there is any available that can help the defense. And in the other areas I don't think the idea is to let them learn why on the job the way McDaniels did. If there is no one capable of doing in the organization by alls means look outside.

KS: I feel Belichick is not only good at coaching players, he's good at coaching coaches. Despite losing several coaches over the years, Belichick seems to groom his coaches to step in when a coach leaves the team. He not only believes in good depth in the player roster, he also seems to build good depth on his coaching staff. Plus he has Dante Scarnecchia, the Troy Brown of coaches on his squad. Dante is the unsung hero of that coaching staff. He's coached just about every position in his Patriots coaching career. You got to love Dante!

SL: I think that The Patriots have always been able to take people from within and create an energy and vision that fits. As we saw with the curious signing of Dom Capers last year, I don't think it works unless they can check egos at the door and come in here with open heart and mind. If you create from within and build your pipeline to fit the system, then your transition to fill positions when they move onto more lucrative positions will be much easier in the future.

JS: They have to hire people from the outside, too many bodies are leaving. It's interesting to see which assistants will be given a chance to grow up as position coaches and coordinators, but the lack of experience left with the recent departures limits what the Patriots can do. They're going to need to make at least two, probably three outside hires.

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