|Replacing a legend: How Patriots went with Dave DeGuglielmo to take over for Dante Scarnecchia||01.29.15 at 2:23 am ET|
PHOENIX — It’s never easy replacing a legend — just imagine what it’s going to be like for whoever has to replace Tom Brady.
That was exactly what Dave DeGuglielmo was facing this season when he became the first Patriots’ offensive line coach in 24 years, as Dante Scarnecchia retired after last season. Scarnecchia had been a coach in the NFL since 1982, including different stints with the Patriots along the way.
Bill Belichick was asked Wednesday why he went with DeGuglielmo and the process that led to the hire to replace one of the greatest offensive line coaches in the history of the NFL.
“He was available – he wasn’t in football last year,” said Belichick. “We interviewed him at the end of the season — I think it might have been during the bye week last year before the Indianapolis game if I remember correctly, but somewhere in there. Because we knew that Dante [Scarnecchia] was going to be retiring, we wanted to kind of try to jump on the process. Met with our staff, we all spent time with him, brought him back for a second interview and hired him. So not a normal process I would say. Again, he’s got a lot of experience, works hard, knows our system very well.”
DeGuglielmo was no stranger to people in the Patriots organization, as he served as the offensive line coach of the Miami Dolphins when current Patriots tight end coach Brian Daboll was the offensive coordinator a few years back.
He is also a local, being born and growing up in Lexington, Massachusetts and having coached at Boston University when they had a football team.
He has served as an offensive line coach with the Giants from 2004-08, the Dolphins in 2012 and the Jets in 2013. He said coaching the Patriots as a local isn’t easy.
“It’s harder to be a Bostonian and work for the Patriots than it is to be a New Yorker or a Californian because everyone and their brother knows my name and when guys [in the media] tear me apart in the media my mom feels bad,” DeGuglielmo said. “I know it’s part of the business, but mom feels bad. When it was the Jets killing me, my mom didn’t read it because she wasn’t opening up the [N.Y. Post]. She didn’t care.”
The 46-year-old didn’t even think about who he was replacing when he started with the Patriots, as Belichick wanted him to be himself, and no one else.
“Actually he wants me to be me,” said DeGuglielmo. “He wants me to coach the way I coach. He wants me to be who I am all he time because he is who he is. Everyone in our building is free to be who they are. The difference is they don’t parade me out [in front of the media] which I appreciate.”
With that being said, the transition didn’t go as smoothy as one would’ve hoped.
The Patriots started the season 2-2 and the offensive line wasn’t performing very well, as Brady was sacked nine times over the first four games and the offensive line was struggling to find a combination that worked. Even with the issues, he didn’t let that affect the transition and his first four games with his new team.
“It [was] more of a perceived heat,” he said. “As long as Bill [Belichick] was pleased with what I was doing I followed his message, we stayed on the track, we stayed on what we do and it worked out some games better than others, but it worked out fairly well.”
|Ted Johnson on MFB: Patriots need more leadership, newer players ‘have to buy in right away’||10.02.14 at 2:22 pm ET|
Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, now a sports radio host in Houston, checked in with Middays with MFB on Thursday to discuss his former team’s rough start to the season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Johnson agreed with many people’s assessment that the offensive line is the biggest issue on the team.
“That’s the main thing, is keep [Tom Brady] clean so that he has a clean pocket,” Johnson said. “For years, with Dante Scarnecchia there — that was a huge loss, too, you guys. Dante not only was the offensive line coach but I think he was the assistant head coach. He was very much a stabilizing force . . . in that locker room. Guys — not only offensive line but the entire team — had a lot of respect for him. Now he’s retired and he’s moved on, so that’s part of it, too.”
Brady is not playing like he has in past years, and Johnson suggested the increase in pressure could be a big reason why.
“I saw this, too, with Drew [Bledsoe],” Johnson said. “And I’m the biggest Drew Bledsoe fan in the world. Later in his career, guys, the more he got hit, the more he was like a cat on a hot tin roof back there. He was just throwing off his back foot and he could just feel what he thought was perceived pressure, and it wasn’t. So you really have to do a good job of keeping Tom upright to give you the best chance to win.”
That said, Johnson said Brady is far from finished.
“By no means. People want to say he’s done. Give me a break — Tom Brady? Are you kidding me? He’s still playing at a high level. He just needs more help,” Johnson said. “To put a bow on that, I just think the offensive line has to do a much better job. Again, he beats you with his brain, not the ability to scramble and make plays with his feet. That’s that.”
|Christian Fauria on Dave DeGuglielmo: ‘There are some issues with his personality, there’s some issues with the way he coaches’||09.24.14 at 4:08 pm ET|
During Wednesday’s Middays with MFB show, Christian Fauria discussed the concerns about the Patriots offensive line and questioned whether Dave DeGuglielmo is the right fit for the team based on what he’s hearing about the positional coach’s relationship with the linemen. To hear the segment, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
“I have heard things,” Fauria said. “I haven’t heard from the Patriots players, per se, but I have heard that there are some issues with him as being the coach. There are some issues with his personality, there’s some issues with the way he coaches, with the technique that he teaches.”
Fauria said he’s researched DeGuglielmo’s background. The Boston University product is in his 10th season as an assistant in the NFL.
“He seems like a nice guy,” Fauria said. “Big guy, funny guy, loud, boisterous, engaging. But listen, he’s not Dante Scarnecchia. So, I think there’s some personality issues there. We talked after the Miami game, after the offensive line had so many issues, you started thinking if it’s not the players, then it’s got to be the technique. Because [Sebastian] Vollmer just didn’t automatically just get bad. [Nate] Solder didn’t just wake up in the morning and get bad. Solder’s been struggling since the beginning of preseason — the beginning of preseason.
“And the other guys that have been playing, they’ve been up and down. [Marcus] Cannon’s been up and down. Is it just that he’s just stiff and he’s lacking athleticism? I think that’s part of it. So, each guy’s got to be coached differently. And coach Gug, if he’s coaching the way Dante Scarnecchia used to coach, well, then he’s doing himself a disservice. Because he’s got to coach the way he needs to coach. He need to teach his technique, not take what Scarnecchia did and flip it around and try to use it himself.”
Added Fauria: “There might be some pushback on the technique that they choose. It’s hard. When you have success doing it one way for the long period of time that they have done it here — just offensive line technique-wise — if somebody else comes in and they say, ‘You know what? I want you to try it this way,’ there’s a trust element that just isn’t there. If you don’t trust him, if you haven’t had success with his technique, you don’t want to use it.
“And then sure enough, if you go out there and use it and it fails you, then what are you going to do right away? You’re going to go right back to the technique that gave you success. But you haven’t practiced it, so you’re not good at it. Next thing you know you’re going to get beat again. Now you’re going to go back and forth with each technique, and then you’re going to be right in the middle and you’re just going to get killed. And I think that has a lot to do with what’s happening to Solder, what’s happening to Cannon, what’s happening to Vollmer. I think all these guys, there are technique issues.
“Now, you will get beat just because somebody else is better than you. They’re going to have a huge challenge this week [Monday night against the Chiefs]. Huge. Huge. You won’t be able to hear anything. And that front seven is really good. Both on the bookends, on the edges and in the middle they’re good.”
|With Logan Mankins gone, what now for Patriots offensive line?||08.26.14 at 10:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In the space of 10 months, the Patriots have lost their longtime offensive line coach to retirement and their heart-and-soul offensive line captain to NFL economics.
The question now is, what will the Patriots do without Dante Scarnecchia and Logan Mankins? Part of that question has already been answered as new offensive line coach Dave Duglielmo has had a full spring and summer with the players he hopes will keep Tom Brady clean, healthy and upright all season.
But the second part of that equation is a big TBD.
“We have a lot of guys with a lot of good experience, like Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell and Sebastian Vollmer and there’s a whole list of guys who know what they’re doing. We can definitely get by,” Solder said.
Obviously, the Patriots are looking for much more than just getting by when it comes to keeping No. 12 upright. They’re not looking for the next Pro Bowler per se, but rather someone who will give them consistent play from the left guard position that they’ve gotten for the past nine seasons from Mankins.
And while Connolly and Wendell could be options at left guard, there are other names to consider who could step in immediately. Jordan Devey, Josh Kline and Marcus Cannon. All three have played the interior line at some point in their time in New England, with Devey and Kline getting the most reps during games while Cannon has played primarily tackle, filling in at right tackle last season when Sebastian Vollmer went down with a season-ending broken leg.
Then, late in the season, against the Ravens in Baltimore, Belichick provided some possible foreshadowing of life without Mankins at left guard. With Solder out with a concussion, the team shifted Mankins to left tackle. It was the 24-year-old Kline who filled in for Mankins at left guard, making his first career NFL start.
Whoever gets the call at left guard, Solder is completely confident that he can help lead the new group into the 2014 season.
“A ton of confidence,” Solder said. “Those guys work so hard and they’re awesome people. I have a ton of confidence. That’s why they’re here. The way I kind of view leadership is to do my job the best that I can. If that influences people, I hope it does, but that’s kind of the role I see myself in.”
|Experience on Patriots offensive line making transition to Dave DeGuglielmo era easier||08.11.14 at 6:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots took a major hit following last season when offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retired after spending 32 seasons in the NFL, 30 of which coming with the Patriots. The organization brought in veteran offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo to replace Scarnecchia, but with the number of returning members of the offensive line, the transition has been made much easier.
New England returned its entire starting offensive line from the past two seasons, as well as backup Marcus Cannon, so the system Scarnecchia put into place has not been altered much.
“It’s not completely different,” said nine-year veteran Logan Mankins. “There are a lot of things that are the same, but there is some stuff that is different. Guys like myself that have done it for so long, it takes a little while to train your body to do it a different way.
“But we’re working on it, and a lot of guys are getting it.”
All nine of Mankins’ seasons in the NFL have been with the Patriots, and teaming up with other offensive line starters Dan Connolly (six seasons in New England), Ryan Wendell (five), Sebastian Vollmer (five), Nate Solder (three) and Cannon (three), the unit has a combined 31 years playing for Scarnecchia.
With the success of the Patriots offensive lines in the past, DeGuglielmo — a Lexington, Mass. native — knew coming in he wouldn’t change much of what was already put into place.
“The system is in place. It’s not like we’re reinventing anything here. I’m trying to teach the system,” DeGuglielmo said back on the second day of training camp. “I might use different coaching phrases, but it’s the same stuff. It’s the same technique, generally the same offense. I’m not changing anything, that’s for sure.”
After 14 practices and one preseason game, the grouping is still getting used to their new coach, but things are steadily moving in the right direction.
“Thankfully, [DeGuglielmo] is a good guy, and I think he cares about winning and cares about the team so it always makes it easier,” Mankins said.
With roughly three weeks before the season-opener in Miami and three more preseason games remaining, it’s still a work in progress. But the grouping finds themselves in much better shape than some other teams could be in if put in the same position.
Having 31 combined years of experience learning from one of the best offensive line coaches in the league and a new coach willing to build on what was already built, the group is in as good of shape as they can be at this point in training camp.
“I think so. He has done a good job of making everything clear on how he wants stuff,” Mankins said. “We are trying to satisfy that. It’s not always perfect right now – it hardly ever is – [but] we’re making strides in the right direction, I think. I know we’re trying to do it the way he wants — hopefully he sees how hard we’re working.”
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price dish on Dante Scarnecchia, Brandon Spikes, protecting ‘Patriot Way’||04.17.14 at 5:52 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia is joined by Chris Price to discuss the leadership that offensive captain Logan Mankins brings to the Patriots. Mankins defended the team against the harsh criticism of former linebacker Brandon Spikes and laughed off a prediction from Spikes that his new team, the Bills, would beat the Patriots twice in 2014. Petraglia and Price also discuss how Mankins will stabilize a veteran offensive line that lost its longtime coach, Dante Scarnecchia, to retirement.
1. He sounds optimistic about the upcoming transition period for the New England offensive line.
For the first time since shortly after the earth cooled, Dante Scarnecchia will not be coaching the Patriots offensive line. It’ll be an interesting stretch for Mankins, who will be losing the only position coach he’s known at the professional level. However, Mankins said new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo “seems like a great guy, and I look forward to working with him.”
“It’s going to be a big change,” Mankins said when asked about moving on from Scarnecchia. “I was lucky enough to have him for nine seasons. I wish that could have continued. But he put in his time and he earned the right to retire. Last time I talked to him, he was enjoying life right now and he’s staying busy. But it will be a lot different. That’s the only o-line coach I’ve known for quite a while now, so, it’ll be a bit of a change.”
What does Mankins want out of a new coach?
“Personally, I just want a coach that’s fair, he’s going to treat everyone the same — there’s no one on a pedestal,” he said. “I think I learned to appreciate that from Dante. He was a hard coach, but he was a fair coach. We always knew he had our backs. He demanded a lot of us, but I think that’s what made a lot of us good players. That’s why he was such a successful coach and lasted so long.”
2. He’s been working a lot with fellow guard Dan Connolly this offseason.
According to Mankins, for the first time in several years, both Mankins and Connolly aren’t dealing with any sort of offseason rehab for surgery. As a result, the two have been working together in the area to ‘get after it’ for a few hours every morning. He said
“It’s been a good partnership right now,” Mankins said. “In years past, I had surgeries, he had surgeries, we had the whole lockout thing. We used to (train) a long time ago until certain things changed that, so this year was nice to get back together.
“We meet every morning at a certain time and get after it for a few hours then go home. It’s always nice to have someone to work out with, especially at your own position, that you are working on the same things,” Mankins said. “We’ve been pushing each other and it’s been working out well.”
Right now, Mankins said it’s just “the big boys throwing around weights.” That will transition to the start of the offseason program on Monday, where coaches can get involved. At that point, it’s expected that more cardio will be worked into the mix. Mankins said center Ryan Wendell has also been present since re-signing about three weeks ago, while youngsters Jordan Devey and Chris Barker have also been present.
(For what it’s worth, Mankins also sounded an optimistic note on the state of right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who went down in October with a season ending leg injury. “He looks good right now, too. I don’t know his whole update right now, but he looks good and I know he’s working hard,” Mankins said of Vollmer. “There’s good promise there.”)
3. There’s something to be said for continuity.
If everyone returns healthy, the Patriots will have a chance to utilize the same five starting offensive linemen they had at the beginning of the 2013 season — Vollmer (right tackle), Connolly (right guard), Wendell (center), Mankins, (left guard) and Nate Solder (left tackle).
“It’s always good,” said Mankins when asked about continuity. “We know what were doing, (but) it always comes down to making the right blocks and doing a good job. We like the group we have. We like the guys in that room. They’re all hard working guys and they try very hard and they work hard. I think we could have a good season together.
“I look forward to seeing everyone get back and everyone getting to work together finally,” he added. “It’s always exciting, kind of like your first day back at school, I guess. You get to see everyone after the break, get to catch up with some friends you haven’t seen too much of lately, and get to work together, push each other, and see if other guys have been working as hard as you have.”