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FOXBOROUGH — Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia said he never would have come out of retirement if offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was no longer with the team.
“I mean that,” Scarnecchia said Friday morning at Gillette Stadium.
Since joining the organization in 1982, Scarnecchia has left the Patriots twice — first in 1989 to become the offensive line coach for the Indianapolis Colts for two seasons, and then again in 2013 to retire. His retirement lasted just two seasons, as he resumed his post as offensive line coach in 2016.
“I would never have come back here if he was not here,” the 71-year-old Scarnecchia said. “He’s just such a really good coach and a great guy for me personally to work with.”
Scarnecchia had high praise for McDaniels, who first joined New England’s coaching staff in 2001 as a personnel assistant.
“He’s fun to be around, but he’s a no-nonsense guy in a lot of respects,” Scarnecchia said. “He’ll tell you, ‘Don’t you think we need to do this? Don’t you think we need to do that?’ I just appreciate his candidness, and I appreciate the way he’s able to get everybody to work together on the offensive staff and see the game through one set of eyes. That’s always been something that we covet around here, getting everybody on the same page.”
McDaniels became the Patriots’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the same title he holds now, in 2005. He left the organization in 2009 to become head coach of the Denver Broncos, where he was fired after less than two seasons. He then spent a season with the St. Louis Rams before returning to New England in 2012.
McDaniels almost left the Patriots again this past offseason, but broke off his agreement to become head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Despite the past controversy, Scarnecchia has the utmost confidence in McDaniels as a future head coach.
“Someone is going to be very lucky to have him,” Scarnecchia said. “He’s very bright, a football guy through and through. He understands the game from the front to the back end, and the whole width and breadth of everything. He’s a coach’s son, born into the game, and just a pleasure to be around and to work with.”
The new generation
Patriots secondary coach Steve Belichick says he works “very closely” with his younger brother Brian, on staff as a coaching assistant.
“He kind of has a little more of an intellectual point of view than I have, so we feed off each other,” Steve said. “I rely on him a lot to help me out with a bunch of different stuff. He helps me out a lot. Hopefully, I teach him a couple of things.”
Brian, a 2016 graduate of Trinity College, is in his fourth season with the team. Steve, in his eighth season, said the pair spend a lot of time together both inside and out of Gillette Stadium.
“When we were kids, we played out in the yard, we played video games, we tried to come to our dad’s work, we did a bunch of different things together,” Steve said. “Our friends are similar age groups, so as we’ve gotten older, we’ve kind of conjoined into a bigger group of friends. We do a ton of stuff together. We do even more together now that we’re working together.”
Getting it done
Special teams coach Joe Judge didn’t have much of a reaction to the Patriots setting a franchise record with four blocked punts this season. “We’re not chasing records, I can assure you that,” Judge said Friday. “We’re not chasing stats. I could [not] care less about any of that. All I care about is winning.” Judge attributed the success to proper execution. “We’ve always called the game from an aggressive standpoint,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to break through and have some good execution with technique and make some plays in good situations to swing some favor for ourselves” . . . Running back Sony Michel (illness) was added to the injury report Saturday. He joins the list of eight other players who are questionable for Sunday’s game against Miami: Linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley (knee), Shilique Calhoun (illness), and Jamie Collins (shoulder); defensive back Terrence Brooks (groin); offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle); cornerbacks Jonathan Jones (groin) and Jason McCourty (groin); and wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee/shoulder).