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A closer look at the coaching changes made by the Patriots on Friday afternoon

02.11.11 at 4:07 pm ET
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Bill O'Brien (back to the camera) has been promoted to offensive coordinator by the Patriots. (AP)

When it comes to the coaching changes that were announced by the Patriots on Friday afternoon, the biggest news was the move of Bill O’Brien from assistant to offensive coordinator, as well as the move of Matt Patricia from linebackers to safety coach.

However, for O’Brien, the shift is a move in title only. Much was made of the Patriots not having an offensive or defensive coordinator the last couple of seasons. While coach Bill Belichick and Patricia appeared to handle most of the duties on the defensive side of the ball last season, on the offensive side of the ball, play-calling was something of a collective effort. Players said that O’Brien, Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all had serious input. But it’s been O’Brien who has had his fingerprints all over the offense. As a result, don’t look for a dramatic shift in New England’s offensive philosophy in 2011.

The biggest move on the defensive side of the ball involved Patricia, who was considered the closest thing to a defensive coordinator New England had in 2010. He will now coach the safeties after spending the last five seasons as linebackers coach. But as was the case on offense, don’t look for much to change in 2011. Patricia is well-schooled in the Belichick system, and considered the closest thing on the staff to a rising young star who could eventually become a head coach.

One sure sign to see how much — if anything, really — has changed on the defensive side of the ball next season will be to see which defensive assistant is wearing red. That’s the assistant who players look to for calls. If Patricia is wearing the red jacket or sweatshirt in 2011, he will still be regarded as the most important defensive assistant on the team.

Meanwhile, the biggest promotion comes with the move of Patrick Graham to linebackers coach after serving as a coaching assistant in 2009 and defensive assistant in 2010. (This is a move that’s been made by several young assistants under Belichick — previous coaching assistants under Belichick on both offense and defense include O’Brien, Patricia, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels.) In addition, Brian Flores — a former linebacker at Boston College — appears to be moving into the role formerly held by Graham.

It was also announced that Corwin Brown, who shared responsibilities with Josh Boyer as a defensive backs coach in 2010, would not return to the team in 2011. The Brown move was reported earlier this week, and while Patricia will be moving to coach the safeties, it appears Boyer will focus on only coaching cornerbacks in 2011.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O’Brien, Brian Flores, Corwin Brown
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