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Thursday, May 10, 2012
Analysis: Coaching staff changes

By Mike Rodak

While the Patriots announced several changes to their coaching staff on Thursday, most were simply changes in title that reflected what roles coaches had held, in some cases, for several seasons.

Matt Patricia, who received the title of defensive coordinator this offseason, had been the de-facto play caller on defense for the past three seasons, with the title of defensive coordinator remaining unfilled since Dean Pees last held it in 2009. With Patricia holding the title of safeties coach last season, Boyer, whose title has been changed to cornerbacks coach, had already been focused on coaching that position.

The exception is along the front seven, where 33-year old Patrick Graham has switched roles with Pepper Johnson. Head coach Bill Belichick likely will be asked for the rationale behind this change at his next gathering with reporters. One angle could be allowing Graham, an up-and-coming coach, to gain experience at another position. Another could be Belichick wanting to give the linebacker unit the attention of one of his trusted veteran assistants in Johnson.

The promotion of Brian Flores to safeties coach marks yet another rise in the ranks for an assistant who Belichick has groomed starting from an entry-level, coaching assistant role, and his name will be one to watch over the coming years.

Flores assisted special teams coach Scott O'Brien, so his promotion to safeties coach opened a spot on special teams, which was filled by former Alabama assistant Joe Judge.

On offense, George Godsey slides into the tight ends coaching spot, vacated when Brian Ferentz left to coach the offensive line at Iowa under his father, Kirk Ferentz. Godsey, who some reports linked to a quarterbacks coaching role at Penn State under his former coach, Bill O'Brien, instead stays in New England.

Finally, Steve Belichick begins his coaching career under his father, although at this point, it's unclear if the younger Belichick will have a responsibility specifically on offense or defense. The team has not announced it, but reports have linked former NFL quarterback Chris Simms to the Patriots, also in a coaching assistant role.