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Friday, February 11, 2011
Analysis: Coaching staff changes

By Mike Reiss & Mike Rodak

The headline-grabbing news for the Patriots' coaching announcements Friday is that Bill O'Brien earned the title of offensive coordinator. But really, O'Brien had been assuming that role over the last two years, so the more intriguing news from this perspective was the shifting of linebackers coach Matt Patricia to safeties coach.

The Patriots have invested high draft choices at safety in Brandon Meriweather (first round, 2007) and Patrick Chung (high second round, 2009). While the Patriots have added top young talent at the position, they have had instability from a coaching perspective at that spot. Patricia is the fourth safeties coach in the last four years.

In moving Patricia to that role, head coach Bill Belichick maintains some stability by naming a coach already on the staff, someone who knows the intricacies of the defense and could potentially bring out the best in the team's younger talent at the position.

This also strengthens the possibility that Belichick himself will coordinate the defense for the second year in a row.

One question left unanswered is what will happen with the head strength and conditioning position. Mike Woicik, who has filled that role for the past eleven seasons, has interviewed with the Cowboys this week according a league source, after his contract with the Patriots expired.

The possibility still exists for other coaching staff changes in the coming weeks.