Potential coordinators in waiting

February, 17, 2013
2/17/13
12:30
PM ET
Coaching turnover in the NFL is perhaps as prevalent now as ever before, as franchises often turn to firing a head coach to inspire a quick-fix turnaround.

Eight head coaches were fired after the 2012 season, and of their replacements, four were NFL coordinators this past season.

Headlines focus on how head coaching vacancies are filled, but less attention is placed on how teams decide to replace a coordinator or assistant who moves on to a new job.

Dan Pompei of the National Football Post profiles the coaching pipeline in his weekly Sunday Blitz column, and notes that three NFL coaches -- John Harbaugh of the Ravens, Andy Reid of the Chiefs, and Bill Belichick -- often choose to promote from within relating to coordinator hires.

That's how Josh McDaniels first became an offensive coordinator, and current defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as well.

In fact, Pompei lists 3 Patriots internal promotions among his 8 best over the past decade: Eric Mangini (2005; defensive backs to defensive coordinator), Josh McDaniels (2006; quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator) and Dean Pees (2006; linebackers coach to defensive coordinator).

The Patriots' track record of success under Bill Belichick has made their coordinators popular commodities on the head coaching market, as was again the case this offseason for McDaniels.

Both McDaniels and Patricia are locked in for 2013, but success in 2013 could vault one or either onto the head-coaching radar, and lead to a situation where the Patriots need to find a replacement, with an internal promotion a possibility.

Keeping in mind that such a scenario is no guarantee, but looking ahead in the event that it could become a reality, the Patriots have an offensive and defensive assistant who both fit the mold as a replacement coordinator.

Despite the fact that he was just brought back to the team, Brian Daboll brings coordinator experience, is a versatile offensive mind, and is well-regarded in the system. He was groomed on a similar path as McDaniels, and has worked with a number of different positions. Though the offenses he has coordinated have not been highly successful, he was brought back for a reason, and because he is a respected mind.

On defense, linebackers coach Pepper Johnson brings playing and coaching experience, along with a wealth of respect from those who have coached with him and played for him. He's coached both the defensive line and linebackers, and is extremely familiar with the Patriots system, having played under Belichick during his NFL career.

If a situation arises where the Patriots are in need of a coordinator and want to promote from within, both Daboll and Johnson could come under consideration.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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