According to reports, Greg Schiano is expected to be named the new defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, replacing Brian Flores.
Less than 48 hours after the Miami Dolphins made official their hiring of ex-Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores as their new head coach, New England is expected to bring aboard Greg Schiano to replace him. The longtime associate of Bill Belichick will presumably take over the role of defensive coordinator for the team.
Schiano and Belichick have been friends and “sounding boards” for one another for years. While Schiano most recently served as defensive coordinator/associate head coach for Ohio State under Urban Meyer, he also has NFL experience from being the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
The real connection between Belichick and Schiano dates back further, though, to the latter’s time spent as head coach of Rutgers University between 2001-2011. In 11 years at the helm, Schiano oversaw a massive turnaround for a program that had long been the laughingstock of the old Big East conference.
Specifically as it relates to the Patriots, Schiano coached a number of Rutgers alumni that Belichick ended up drafting to the team, including Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty, and Jason McCourty. It was widely-reported that Belichick sought Schiano’s opinion on these players prior to selecting them, and that he considered the Rutgers program to be a pipeline for the type of football players he wanted in New England.
Schiano’s hiring does not come without controversy, however. According to 2016 documents related to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal at Penn State, Schiano may have known about Sandusky’s actions while both men were part of the program together under Joe Paterno. While Ohio State and Penn State both denied these allegations, the news sparked a wildfire of outrage across social media and sports reporting online – and eventually led to the University of Tennessee withdrawing the head coach offer it had previously extended to Schiano.
There are also instances and reports of Schiano rubbing both his own players and coaches – and those on opposing teams – the wrong way. Some critics have claimed he works his players too hard, his personality is too abrasive, and he has a tendency towards unsportsmanlike behavior – like when he’s coached his defensive linemen to run into offensive linemen during quarterback kneel-downs at the end of games that have already been decided. Supporters claim these are just tenets of his uber-competitive nature, while detractors say his behavior can be unprofessional and unbecoming.
Whatever your feelings are on Schiano as they relate to his personality, his coaching style, his coaching record, and his overall background as a public figure, one thing that can’t be easily dismissed is his knowledge, ability, and talent as a defensive football mind. These are the traits that attracted Belichick to him at Rutgers in the first place, and certainly the ones that got him hired under Meyer at Ohio State as well.
It’s safe to assume that for better or worse, his pairing with the no-nonsense, defensively-geared Belichick should do wonders for the Patriots defense, elevating a unit that just came off a superb Super Bowl performance to even more-rarified air in 2019.