Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia will retire this offseason according to a report by Christian Fauria of WEEI, later confirmed by ESPN's Mike Reiss.
After spending the 1970's coaching in the college ranks, Scarnecchia joined Ron Meyer's Patriots staff in 1982. Outside of two seasons spent in Indianapolis (1989-'90), Scarnecchia spent his entire NFL career with the Patriots, coaching many different position groups, including special teams, tight ends, linebackers, and his specialty, the offensive line. He even served in a head coaching capacity toward the end of the 1992 season, filling in for Dick McPherson who was battling an illness.
After a two-year mini retirement in 2014-15, Scarnecchia returned to the Patriots in 2016 and helped shepherd three more Super Bowl appearances with two more titles. In all, Scarnecchia finishes his career having coached in 49 of the 58 playoff games in Patriots history.
This is the third significant coaching departure this offseason for the Patriots, as defensive line coach Brett Bielema recently followed special teams/wide receivers coach Joe Judge to the New York Giants. In-house candidates to possibly replace Scarnecchia include Carmen Bricillo, who spent the 2019 season assisting the o-line coach. He coached the offensive line at Youngstown State from 2010-2018.
Assistant running backs coach Cole Popovich, who started with the team as a coaching assistant in 2015, spent time working with Scarnecchia as well and has junior college experience coaching the offensive line.
It was a challenging final year for Scarnecchia, who saw his starting left tackle go down in Week 2, leaving the Patriots scrambling via trades and signings off the street to fill their injury holes. By the end of the year, the offensive line found some of the success that had become a trademark of Scarnecchia but not enough to get the team out of the wild card round.
There's no denying these are huge shoes to fill. Scarnecchia has been a long-time fixture and was always able to get the best out of his position group. A fascinating and difficult-to-predict offseason just got even more complicated.