It appears Eric Mangini will replace Romeo Crennel as the Patriots defensive coordinator after all. With Mangini visiting both Miami and Cleveland this week to interview for the Dolphins and Browns vacant defensive coordinator jobs, it looked as though the 10-year NFL coaching veteran considered an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks might be the next Patriots assistant to leave for a new job. But Head Coach Bill Belichick said during a Saturday TV interview while playing in the PGA Tour's Pebble Beach Pro-Am that Mangini would coordinate the Patriots defense in 2005. Terms of the agreement are not yet known.
Mangini began his NFL coaching career under Belichick in the Cleveland Browns organization back in 1995. He moved with the club to Baltimore in 1996 before Belichick summoned him to join the Jets defensive staff in 1997. He coached in New York for three seasons before moving with Belichick to New England in 2000 as the defensive backs coach, a position he has held for five seasons.
He was lauded for his work this season coaching an injury-depleted defensive backfield that relied on an undrafted rookie free agent starter, Randall Gay, and a 12-year veteran wide receiver. Troy Brown, at nickel back.
It looked like, late in the week, that Mangini was as good as gone. Crennel said in a Thursday conference call with the New England media that he had sought permission to speak with Mangini, whose contract with New England expired after the Super Bowl. He was highly complimentary of Magini's work on his defensive staff over the past four seasons and it looked like Mangini was Crennel's top choice.
The 34-year-old assistant coach knows Belichick's defensive system and was considered the heir apparent to Crennel after he turned down a chance to coordinate the Raiders defense last season. Now he will get his chance under Belichick in New England. Linebackers Matt Chatham and Rosevelt Colvin, speaking at a Friday night Super Bowl rally at the Warwick Mall in Rhode Island hosted by WHJJ, a Providence talk radio station, said that they thought Mangini would be a terrific replacement for Crennel and stressed the importance of maintaining some continuity. Mangini certainly represents that for a coaching staff that lost both its offensive and defensive coordinators to head coaching positions.
Mangini is a native of Hartford, Conn., where he attended Bulkeley High School. He attended Wesleyan University, Belichick's alma mater and coached a semi-pro team in Australia for two years before working in the Browns public relations department where he met Belichick and eventually moved into the coaching side of the football operation.