The Patriots will name Greg Schiano their new defensive coordinator imminently, a league source confirmed Wednesday.
Schiano will replace Brian Flores, the team’s defensive play caller for the 2018 season, who left the day after New England’s 13-3 victory over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII to take the Dolphins’ head coaching job.
Schiano will be Bill Belichick’s third defensive coordinator in three seasons after Matt Patricia took the Lions’ top job following the 2017 season.
With experience at both the college and NFL levels, a close relationship with Belichick, and a solid rapport with several Patriots players, Schiano figures to have a smooth transition to Foxborough.
Defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty and Duron Harmon all played for Schiano at Rutgers, as did safeties coach Steve Belichick.
Logan Ryan and Kenny Britt are among a handful of other former Rutgers standouts who have played in New England.
Belichick has often talked about the respect he has for Schiano and the similar philosophies the two have.
“I think Coach Schiano is a great defensive coach and he’s really coached all the positions — line, linebacker, DBs,” Belichick said in 2015. “He’s had a lot of extensive work with defensive backs and I think he does a great job with them.
“The way he runs his program, runs his defense, teaches and so forth, that’s all a great part of preparing players either in a similar way that we do it or when he was in college prepared them to come into our program with some changes but minimal maybe compared to other teams.”
Schiano recently left his position after a two-year stint as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator/associate head coach.
He is best known for his 11-year run at Rutgers, where he helped turn around a perennially moribund program. His Scarlet Knights were ranked as high as No. 7 in the Associated Press poll in 2006.
Schiano, who was 68-67 overall with the Scarlet Knights, posted six winning seasons and five bowl-game victories in his final seven years in Piscataway, N.J.
Following the 2011 season, Schiano was hired to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was his first NFL job since 1998, when he completed his third season as a Bears defensive assistant.
He was fired after two seasons and an 11-21 record in Tampa. After two years coaching at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, he took the Ohio State post.
Schiano appeared poised to become Tennessee’s head coach in 2017 but the school changed its mind after Volunteer fans protested the decision. The fans, and some in the media, cited Schiano’s connection to Penn State, where he was an assistant at the same time as Jerry Sandusky.
Schiano denied McQueary’s claims, telling ESPN, “I never saw any abuse nor had reason to suspect any abuse during my time at Penn State.’’
Belichick again offered his support of Schiano after the Tennessee episode.
“I think Greg’s a tremendous coach. I’ve learned an awful lot from him,’’ he said. “I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him when he was at Rutgers. He’s one of the very best coaches in our profession.
“I have tremendous amount of respect for Greg and the way he runs the program and the job he does.’’