According to multiple reports, first by The MMQB's Albert Breer, the Patriots are expected to name defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington as their next defensive coordinator next week. A further report from ESPN's Jeremy Fowler indicated the team had begun informing other candidates that the team had made a decision.
Newly named head coach Jerod Mayo has been working quickly over the last week to interview different candidates from around the league for all three coordinator spots but few will question the decision to stay in-house on the defensive side of the ball.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The Patriots had a lot of issues as a team last season, but the defense was not one of the problems. Despite significant injuries to Matthew Judon and in the secondary, Covington's veteran group continued to play at a high level and set the tone up front.
Overall, the Patriots defense finished eighth in EPA, ninth in DVOA and 15th in points allowed.
Covington has been a rising star among the coaching ranks, expanding his experience last year by coordinating one of the defenses at the Senior Bowl. This past season, Covington's defensive line group was among the team's best and most consistent units, finishing second overall in run defense EPA and third in run defense DVOA.
Christian Barmore broke out in 2023 under Covington, while Anfernee Jennings emerged from an injury fill-in to one of the stoutest edge players in the league. Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise all turned in strong seasons in the trenches.
This signifies the first major domino to fall since Mayo's hiring and the continuity that Covington will provide is a big plus, but now questions remain as to how Covington and Mayo will fill out the rest of the defensive staff.
For the past few seasons, Mayo and Steve Belichick worked together to coordinate and call the defense. Now, Mayo is the head coach and the defensive line coach Covington will be coordinating things, so where does that leave Belichick and his play-calling duties? Covington would seem likely to take over that role himself, while Steve is already an experienced coach who has been with multiple position groups. That offers some flexibility for a new potential role if he were to still return.
The statuses of Steve and Brian Belichick, as well as cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino should become more clear. Certainly, Bill Belichick's future is a factor, but with rising uncertainty if he'll be coaching next season, signs could be pointing toward more of the defensive staff returning to New England.
At the very least, Mayo and Covington's continued presence is assurance that the core of what has made the Patriots defensive consistently among the league's best over recent seasons will remain.