Offensive line and injuries – two of the areas where New England struggled mightily throughout the 2015 season. And perhaps not coincidentally, two areas where the Patriots have wasted little time in making changes.
Just two days after the team reportedly parted ways with o-line coach Dave DeGuglielmo after just two seasons, comes news first reported by ESPN that the team's head strength and conditioning coach, Harold Nash, will not be back with the team in 2016.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, there has been no official confirmation of this reported move by the Patriots. Head coach Bill Belichick is with the rest of his assistants in Alabama for Senior Bowl Week practices. When the ESPN report first surfaced, it coincided with Belichick's scheduled appearance on a Boston radio station. However, he was not asked directly about Nash's situation, saying only that there are other staff members who face uncertain contract situations.
Nash first joined the Patriots in 2005 as an assistant strength and conditioning coach, after spending several years prior as both a Canadian Football League player and an assistant to renowned speed coach Tom Shaw. He served in the assistant capacity for New England until 2011, when he was promoted to the head position.
In 2015, his fifth season at the helm of the team's year-round strength and conditioning program (which includes rehabilitation from injuries), the defending Super Bowl champions suffering through an unusually severe rash of injuries – many of them season-ending – to key players.
Immediately following the team's heartbreaking loss at Denver in the AFC Championship Game three days ago, Belichick was asked in a Monday press briefing about the state of the team's offseason training program. Belichick admitted that this is an area that is always included in the Patriots' offseason self-evaluations, but gave no indication that a change in coaching was imminent.
"Yeah, we evaluate that every year, and that's always part of it. We go back and look at the previous year," Belichick explained, "look at historically the information that we have, what the nature of the injuries were, where they happened, what the circumstances were, practice, game, whatever it is and try to find trends or try to find ways based on the testing of the athletes prior to their injuries, whether there was any type of indication that there might be a vulnerability in some particular body part or imbalance or whatever it happens to be. So we're always working on that. Continue to do that as much as we can. Try to stay ahead of it."
Where Belichick looks for a Nash replacement is unclear, but he may have to look no further than his own staff, where assistant strength coach Moses Cabrera has been working since Nash's promotion in 2011. Cabrera came on board after a brief stint at the University of Colorado and several years before that as the assistant strength and conditioning coach at Fresno State. Cabrera earned his bachelor's degree in kinesiology (the study of human movement) health and exercise science from Oral Roberts University.
Meanwhile, former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi has spent the past few seasons as an assistant to the strength and conditioning staff in an unofficial capacity. He could be in line for consideration for a full-time role with the team.