Patriots coaching staff in focus

As each day is checked off the NFL calendar, it looks more and more like Bill Belichick won't make any major additions to the Patriots coaching staff at top-level positions.

Most other teams with openings have already filled them.

A sampling of some, not all, of the recent coaching movement in top-level positions: Miami pounced on Mike Nolan as its defensive coordinator. Buffalo named George Edwards its defensive coordinator. Chicago hired Mike Martz as its offensive coordinator. The New York Giants hired Perry Fewell as defensive coordinator. Denver promoted Don Martindale to defensive coordinator. Philadelphia added former Bills head coach Dick Jauron as a senior assistant/defensive backs coach.

Meanwhile, all has been quiet in Foxboro.

The lack of a big announcement can be looked at in two different ways: 1) Belichick still hasn't found his man; 2) Belichick has decided to stay in-house and because he isn't big on titles, he might feel there is nothing to say at this time.

The feeling here is that No. 2 best explains what is happening. At this point, my opinion is that it would be a surprise if there will be a major announcement of a staff addition.

The Patriots have a vacancy at tight ends coach, and no official offensive or defensive coordinators. Yet in terms of total coaches on staff, they currently have one fewer than they did in 2009.

Projecting where this situation heads, there are a few thoughts that come to mind:

1) Belichick could treat the defensive coordinator vacancy like he has the offensive coordinator spot in recent years, and not name one. The key in that scenario, then, would be clearly delegating responsibilities on staff so there is no confusion or mixed message on who is running the show.

2) The Patriots went through the 2009 season without an official offensive coordinator, although quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien had most of those responsibilities. If this follows a similar path as Josh McDaniels' rise from 2005 to 2006, O'Brien is the most likely candidate to land that title in 2010.

3) The tight ends coach, who will be the third in three years at that spot, is likely to come from within. Because that role is tied to the running game, someone with a background in blocking schemes is an ideal fit, which might give coaching assistant Brian Ferentz the inside track.

At the end of the day, if this is the direction things head, the question will be "Is this good enough?"

There was plenty of media-driven chatter at the end of the season about introducing new ideas and outside perspectives to the staff. One line of thinking is that those new ideas can be implemented by studying other teams and adopting schemes studied on film. A different line of thinking is that it helps to hire a coach from a different program to implement some of those ideas, because that coach will have the most intimate knowledge of how those ideas are adopted.

It looks more and more like the Patriots are going the in-house route.