Perry: Pats showing willingness to spend out of their coaching hole originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
PHOENIX — The Patriots put themselves in a hole with their coaching staff last season. But it appears they’re willing to spend their way out of it.
We’ve seen Bill Belichick until this before. After a 2006 season that ended in the AFC title game without much in the way of receiver talent, the Patriots brought in Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth. After a losing season in 2020, they spent a record sum in free agency to get back to the postseason.
This offseason is different. The reinforcements are coming on the coaching staff. But they’re as desperately needed as the free-agent roster spackle was two years ago or the wideout help was 16 years ago.
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First came Bill O’Brienwho spoke with other coordinator-needy teams this offseason, and as a former NFL head coach won’t come cheap to be the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in New England.
Now Adrian Klemm has joined the staff, according to multiple sources, who will also cost Robert Kraft a substantial sum. Klemm was reportedly set to make $850,000 at the University of Oregon and will receive a raise here in New England after a strong push by the Patriots to lure him from his college gig.
My understanding is that we could be waiting on an official title for Klemm since the future for the person who previously held the offensive line coach title, Matt Patricia, is still in flux. But the message in the hirings of both O’Brien and Klemm is clear: Last year wasn’t good enough, and they’re aggressively looking to improve.
Perry: Adrian Klemm impressed Dante Scarnecchia as college OL coach
How aggressive can be debated, of course. In O’Brien, the Patriots went with a choice that was familiar to them and was long assumed to be the front-runner for the job. In Klemm, the Patriots are going with Belichick’s first-ever draft pick in New England, someone who would be familiar with the old schemes taught by Dante Scarnecchia for the bulk of the dynastic run in Foxboro.
But both will be expensive. And the Patriots are surely hoping they’ll be getting what they paid for. Because for them to return to the postseason and make noise in January — something ownership was clamoring for before last season — they’ll have it.
Adding Klemm to the staff means a sixth voice in five years leading the group of pass-protectors and run-blockers in Foxboro. Since Scarnecchia retired following the 2019 season, Cole Popovich, Carmen Bricillo, Patricia and Billy Yates have all led that room. Yates looks likely to stay in an assistant capacity after joining the team at the Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas last week. Keeping him around — as someone who is respected by players in the locker room — could help a group that hasn’t experienced much coaching consistency in the last few years. (Starting guard Mike Onwenu, for instance, will be on his fifth coach in four years with the Patriots.)
Klemm’s arrival also continues a recent trend of Belichick adding former players to his staff. Lead defensive assistant Jerod Mayo has agreed to an extension with the Patriots this offseason. Troy Brown, who served as the head coach at the Shrine Game, has been on the staff since 2019. Yates and running backs coach Vinnie Sunseri have NFL playing experience as well.
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Belichick has been open in discussing how helpful it is to have former players on his coaching staff in order to be able to relate to current players on a variety of fronts. After Bills safety Damar Hamlin had to be revived on the field in Cincinnati last season, Belichick referenced the benefit of having former players on his coaching staff once again as his team and all players league-wide dealt with the difficulty of that particular moment.
“I have a ton of respect for all the players I’ve coached and what they do,” Belichick said at the time. “Two players in particular that carry a lot of weight with me are two staff members, Troy [Brown] and Jerod [Mayo]. They’ve played the game at this level, I haven’t. They’ve lived a life of a professional football player at a very, very, very high level. Both from a training, maturity, performance, longevity, all of the above. Their input and guidance has been especially valuable.”
Klemm led an offensive line group in Oregon in 2022 that allowed the fewest sacks in the country (five) in 13 games. They were also 10th-best in the nation in tackles for loss allowed per game. Klemm interviewed for the offensive coordinator job for the Patriots but has remained in contact with the team since O’Brien’s hire.
You can learn more about Klemm’s background, and how his legendary former position coach in New England saw Klemm as a college coach, here.