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Five Takeaways From the Patriots Introductory Press Conference With New Coordinators Alex Van Pelt, DeMarcus Covington, and Jeremy Springer

Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo led an introductory press conference with his new coordinators at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. 

Pictured from the left to right: Patriots Special Teams Coordinator Jeremy Springer, Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt and Defensive Coordinator DeMarcus Covington.
Pictured from the left to right: Patriots Special Teams Coordinator Jeremy Springer, Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt and Defensive Coordinator DeMarcus Covington.

Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo led a press conference to introduce New England's new coordinators at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. 

Starting with a familiar face in defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and special teams coordinator Jeremy Springer outlined their philosophies as New England moves forward in the Mayo era with 17 new faces on the coaching staff. 

To set the stage, Coach Mayo explained the hiring process and who advised him during interviews that spanned several weeks.

"The process was definitely a learning experience. I've interviewed people in the past before for other jobs, but this one was a little bit different, but it was exciting," Mayo said. "I learned a lot. I learned a lot from the coaches who came in and interviewed who didn't get hired. Hopefully, they had a good sense of what we are trying to build here."

Along with other influences from inside and outside the building, Mayo acknowledged that Director of Scouting Eliot Wolf had a big hand in helping him build the coaching staff. According to reports, Wolf is taking on a larger role post-Belichick. According to Mayo, Wolf was in on every interview for the coaching staff during the hiring process.

"Once Eliot got here, we hit it off the first time we met. He's one of those guys who is an ego-free guy. He just wants to win football games, and that's what I live by as well. He's been a great partner in this," Mayo explained. "From a team-wide perspective all the way down to the individual players, our philosophy matches. We want to put good football players out there who are fast, smart, and play for one another; he sees it the same way."

"He definitely has a lot of resources and contacts outside the building," Mayo added on Wolf.

The other big-picture takeaway from Mayo's remarks was the Patriots head coach's emphasis on having a larger staff. The Pats are expected to have at least 21 coaches on this year's staff, an increase from a smaller staff under former head coach Bill Belichick.

"Historically, we've always had small staffs. It's hard to get things done that way in today's NFL," Mayo said. "We wanted to make sure we weren't duplicating roles. We were thinking about what value a role brings to the team. We weren't really thinking about size. We were just thinking about how we can make it as good as we can."

After hearing from all three new coordinators, here are our other main takeaways from Wednesday's press conferences down in Foxborough:

1. HC Jerod Mayo on What Makes OC Alex Van Pelt's Scheme Hard to Defend

One of the hires that Wolf heavily influenced was the Patriots naming former Browns and Packers coach Alex Van Pelt as offensive coordinator.

Van Pelt and Wolf had worked together in Green Bay, while Mayo squared off against Van Pelt twice in recent years when the Pats faced the Browns. New England won both games against the Browns, with Van Pelt running Cleveland's offense and Mayo helping coach the Patriots defense. However, Cleveland's scheme stood out to Mayo.

"The one thing I'd say about [Van Pelt] is that he can make the same concept look a bunch of different ways. That's always hard for us on the defensive side of the ball," Mayo said. "I'm expecting, first and foremost, a tough team. After that, it really gets into smart players. You don't have to be a genius, but you have to be smart enough. Then, explosive players and guys that really play for one another."

In my breakdown of Van Pelt's offense, we discussed how well the Browns marry their run game to their play-action passes. By mimicking run-blocking schemes, AVP's opens passing lanes when the quarterback eventually keeps the ball on play-action. Obviously, Mayo took note of this as well and wants to play this style, which is becoming extremely popular around the NFL as teams adopt these West Coast systems.

The Patriots head coach went into more detail about his conversations with folks familiar with Van Pelt's coaching style around the league.

"All the people that I've talked to, they speak very highly of [Alex Van Pelt]. Obviously, he understands the Xs and Os of the game. But also developing talent and he is really a relationship guy, which I fundamentally believe is very important," the Patriots head coach said. "Before you really get to Xs and Os with the guys on the field, they have to know that they care about them. One thing you'll see with [Van Pelt] is that he's a people person who also has extensive knowledge of football."

Mayo also noted that Van Pelt had a major role in filling out the coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball, saying, "you don't want to have to teach your coaches [the scheme]."

After an introductory press conference that was mostly about culture building and Mayo's reaction to being named head coach, it was honestly refreshing to hear the Pats coaches discuss their schematic visions.

2. Van Pelt Explains What He's Looking for in a Quarterback

Along with the overall offensive philosophy, which Van Pelt said would be "similar" to the scheme he ran in Cleveland, the Pats new OC also discussed the quarterback position.

The Patriots are expected to be heavily involved in the quarterback market this offseason. With the fourth-year QB often working out at Gillette Stadium, Van Pelt mentioned that he has met quarterback Mac Jones, adding that "everything is on the table" regarding Jones's future as the team's starting quarterback. Still, there's a strong possibility the Patriots could use the No. 3 overall pick on a quarterback in April's draft.

With the staff mostly finalized, the coaches and front office led by Wolf are beginning to get together to discuss personnel, starting with the players currently on the Patriots roster, followed by draft prep with the NFL Combine next week in Indy and then free agency.

It's unclear at this time how much input Van Pelt and senior offensive assistant Ben McAdoo, who also helped construct the offensive staff, will have on the Patriots decision at quarterback. Still, it's worth noting that New England's scouting department will work with the coaching staff to ensure the personnel they acquire will fit AVP's scheme.

During his press conference on Wednesday, Van Pelt was asked about the key traits he looks for in a quarterback, and we'll surely dissect this response plenty in the coming months.

"The big pieces for me are the leadership, the toughness, the accuracy, and decision making – all four are important," Van Pelt told reporters.

Starting next week in Indianapolis, the Patriots will be able to meet with the quarterback prospects in the NFL Draft, where they can better understand them as leaders. Then, they'll meet with quarterbacks and other prospects again at Pro Days and host players on Top-30 visits. The tape is the tape. But now is an opportunity to get to know them as people, which, according to Van Pelt, is huge as leadership is a massive part of the evaluation.

The good news is that the Patriots will have options at the top of this year's draft, as many consider the 2024 quarterback class a strong group.

3. DC DeMarcus Covington Describes the Patriots Defensive Philosophy in New Era

Moving over to the defense, New England promoted defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington to defensive coordinator, which is not surprising given the defense's recent success.

Covington has spent the last seven seasons on the Patriots coaching staff working closely with Mayo, so the two have an established relationship. Furthermore, the Pats defense finished a respectable ninth in DVOA in 2023, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? Covington's group stood out, with the Patriots finishing second in EPA against the run, while younger players such as DT Christian Barmore have blossomed into impact playmakers under Covington.

Although the Pats DC acknowledged him and Mayo won't change much schematically on defense, Covington did describe his philosophy for how he'd like to play defense. Covington also confirmed that he plans on calling plays this season, meaning Mayo won't be calling the defense himself.

"The defense won't change as much. But when you turn on the tape, what we want to see is a physical team, a team that plays with good discipline and fundamentals, and a team that attacks the football and takes it away from the opponent," Covington said. "That's what we are looking for from our defense and a team that goes out there and plays together and for one another. That type of togetherness is what we are really looking for."

The Patriots had their struggles on offense recently. However, the defense remained strong through the end of the Belichick era. Covington and Mayo will keep the schematic roots of a Belichick system, but we could see a more aggressive defense to create turnovers.

4. Jeremy Springer Harkens Back to Patriots History of Strong Special Teams

As a first-time coordinator at age 34, special teams coordinator Jeremy Springer had a good sense of Patriots history in the kicking game.

Springer recalled watching Patriots legend Adam Vinatieri's historic kick through the snowy Foxborough night in a playoff victory over the Raiders in the 2001 season. At the time, Springer was watching the game at his family's home as a young middle schooler. Even back then, Springer said his goal was to either play or coach in the NFL.

While reminiscing about Vinatieri and other standout special teams plays and players over the years in New England, Springer said his goal is to return the special teams to its former glory.

"My approach is to get back to the elite level it's been in the past," Springer began. "Like [Matthew] Slater left and the Super Bowl runs they had. Get to a level of being in that top five, being a team where every time we take the field, teams have to prepare for us because we are going to play at an elite level."

Springer was also asked about helping coach kicker Chad Ryland to a bounce-back second season, to which the Pats special teams coordinator said he had interacted with Ryland in the past. As a Rams assistant last season, Springer was involved in the scouting process when Ryland entered the league.

The Patriots first-year special teams coordinator will also lean on top assistant Tom Quinn. Quinn was the Giants special teams coordinator for a decade (2007-2017), so he'll be able to help the 34-year-old in his first season as the helm of the Patriots kicking game.

New England ranked 28th in special teams DVOA in large part due to Ryland's struggles last season, so Springer has a lot of work to do to get the kicking game back on track.

5. Coach Mayo Confirms Troy Brown Will be on the Coaching Staff

Lastly, the Patriots press release only included new additions to Mayo's coaching staff. Therefore, reported holdovers from Belichick's staff, such as Mike Pellegrino (CBs), Brian Belichick (safeties), and, according to Mayo, Troy Brown, weren't listed. Although he didn't get into specifics about his role, Mayo confirmed that Brown will be on his staff.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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