Quarterbacks commanded the spotlight, but Friday’s round of New England Patriots video conferences also featured chats with each of the team’s position coaches.
Here are a few leftover notes from those sessions:
— For the first time, both of Bill Belichick’s sons will coach their own position groups this season.
Steve Belichick shifts to outside linebackers after coaching the safeties/secondary in 2019 (and splitting defensive coordinator duties with his father and Jerod Mayo). His younger brother, Brian, a coaching assistant for the last three seasons, takes over a veteran-led safety group.
In his first-ever meeting with reporters, the youngest Belichick spoke about handling the pressure that comes with his famous surname.
“I don’t really think about it,” Brian Belichick said. “I’ve been blessed with an amazing opportunity in my life to be around this organization. We moved here in 2000, and I’ve been amazingly fortunate to have my dad be here for 20 years and allow me to come spend time with the team and learn from these great players and coaches that have been here for a long time. I’m very lucky to have that experience.
“I just try to learn from them and apply things to my life and try not to think into the future. Expectations, I try not to think about that just better myself every day, every year and learn more things and put one foot in front of the other.”
Steve Belichick intends to do all he can to help his brother adjust to his new, more prominent role. He said having a veteran like co-captain Devin McCourty in the safeties room will help ease that transition, as well.
“We’ve talked a lot about it, and obviously we’re extremely close, being brothers,” Steve Belichick said. “As an older brother and a more veteran coach than he is, I’m doing the best I can to lead him through that safety room. Having Devin in that group really helps, and I’m sure Devin’s helping that room.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with Brian in the offseason and so far in training camp to try to bring him up to speed. There’s a lot of little things in our defense that are big things, so a lot of coaching points, obviously. This is our first time with all the players being back in the building, so we’re just trying to get everyone up to speed and do the best we can with the situation we’re in.”
As for his own situation, Steve Belichick said he’s excited to work with a new position group after four years in the defensive backfield. And no, he’s not about to reveal who will be calling defensive plays this season.
“Oh, we’re a long way away from games, so we’ll see how that goes,” he said.”
— To call the Patriots’ new quarterbacks coach “well-traveled” would be putting it mildly.
Since getting his start in the late 1990s, Jedd Fisch has held positions with seven different NFL teams (Houston, Baltimore, Denver, Seattle, Jacksonville, the Los Angeles Rams and now New England) and five Power Five schools (Florida, Minnesota, Miami, Michigan and UCLA).
Over the course of that whirlwind career, the 44-year-old forged relationships with both Bill Belichick and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, which ultimately led him to his current role.
“Initially, I met Coach (Belichick) in I think probably 2011, maybe ’10,” Fisch said in his first meeting with New England reporters. “I was the offensive coordinator at the University of Miami in 2011. Obviously, playing against him in ’03 in Houston and then in Baltimore.
“But I really got to know him and meet him then when I was at the University of Miami, and then we built and established a relationship throughout that time really from Miami and then when I was in Jacksonville and Michigan, UCLA. And then obviously, we played each other in the Super Bowl when I was with the Rams. Got to know him then but really had ties way back when.”
Fisch’s first introduction to Belichick, though, actually came decades earlier.
“My mentor in this profession is a guy named Bill Roca, who was a very successful high school coach in New Jersey,” Fisch said. “I was a ball boy there for years. Bill spoke at his clinic in 1983 when I was 7 years old. Bill came and spoke at a special teams clinic at West Essex High School in New Jersey. I’ve known of and obviously studied and watched everything Coach did for years, but I got to know him in 2011.”
Fisch and McDaniels initially crossed paths when both were working as entry-level college assistants.
“So way back when, my last game as a graduate assistant at University of Florida was Josh’s last game as a graduate assistant at Michigan State, and we played one another in the Citrus Bowl,” Fisch said. “So I’ve known Josh since 2000. And then we both got in the NFL the same year. We both started on the defensive side of the ball. I was a defensive quality control coach for three years for the Houston Texans for Vic Fangio and Dom Capers. He was a defensive QC here. We met probably almost annually at different times at the combine or at the Senior Bowl or we had a couple symposiums we were at together.
“So I’ve known Josh for 20 years, and I’ve always wanted the opportunity to work for Josh. And I was in Denver the year before he arrived. I was (with) Mike (Shanahan) on that staff. And it didn’t work out then, but it’s worked out now. I’ve loved every day since being here working with Josh.”
Though McDaniels no longer carries the title of quarterbacks coach, Fisch said the longtime OC will continue to be “extremely involved” with the Patriots’ signal-callers. McDaniels pulled double duty as coordinator and QBs coach in 12 of the last 15 seasons.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images