FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots' success under Bill Belichick over the last 16 seasons has created opportunities for many elsewhere -- both coaches and front-office personnel.
The coaching side is well documented, as Charlie Weis (Notre Dame), Romeo Crennel (Browns), Eric Mangini (Jets, Browns), Josh McDaniels (Broncos) and Bill O’Brien (Penn State) are among the most notable who have ascended to head-coaching positions elsewhere by using their Patriots experience as the launching pad.
Meanwhile, advancement from front-office executives has flown a bit more under the radar, in part because those staffers aren’t as visible on a daily basis.
Former director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff (Falcons GM), vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli (former Chiefs GM) and director of college scouting Jon Robinson (Buccaneers assistant GM) are three examples of those who benefitted from working in New England to earn significant promotions elsewhere from their posts in New England. One might also include former director of pro personnel Jason Licht (Buccaneers GM) on that list as well, although he had a stop in Arizona before landing his current job.
And now there is former Patriots director of pro scouting Bob Quinn, who spent the last 16 years in New England and was officially introduced as Lions general manager on Monday.
With those who moved on to head coaching positions, the results haven't been great when it comes to sustained success (that doesn’t include current Texans coach Bill O’Brien, who just finished his second season). Because of that, some view Patriots assistants as a “buyer beware” type of deal. There is the lingering question of how much the success has been a result of having Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
Naturally, Quinn was asked about that dynamic Monday in his introductory news conference, and his answer focused more on front-office personnel than coaches.
“I think the executives that have left New England before me have done a good job. Thomas Dimitroff. Scott Pioli built a very good football team in Kansas City. Jason Licht’s got the Tampa Bay Bucs headed in the right direction, so with all due respect to Coach Belichick and Tom Brady, I think a lot of good people have left there and done good things,” he said.
Dimitroff is set to enter his ninth season in Atlanta, where he helped turn around a dormant franchise but has had some in the media call for his job after three straight .500 or worse seasons. Pioli drafted some excellent players in Kansas City (2009-2012), but misfired on his two most important decisions -- head coach (Todd Haley) and quarterback (Matt Cassel). Licht and Robinson have teamed up in Tampa the last two seasons, where things are looking up as Robinson is now on the radar as a GM candidate in Tennessee.
In the process, the Patriots haven’t really missed a beat. There is a lot of brainpower in the Patriots’ front office, which starts with Belichick, who annually transitions from head coach to college scout every March and April leading into the draft.
Director of player personnel Nick Caserio, director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort, assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi and football research director Ernie Adams are among those in high-profile positions, and there are many talented scouts and executives in the pipeline so when there is a defection, a strong in-house candidate is usually there to fill the void.
So as Quinn becomes the latest Patriots front-office executive to use his time in New England as a springboard to a promotion elsewhere, the beat goes on with Belichick’s team -- both on the field and in the front office.