FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Part of Bill Belichick's philosophy in building a coaching staff over his 18 years with the New England Patriots has been to identify intelligent, young grinders who are willing to learn like he did in 1975 with Ted Marchibroda's Baltimore Colts. That was a time when Belichick was making $25 a week (before taxes, of course).
Belichick has annually hired one or two of those coaches, making them personnel and/or coaching assistants while grooming them with the idea that they could eventually grow into larger roles.
The job title is open-ended and no frills because the responsibilities can be, too. In essence, it's basically like they are being enrolled in an NFL Coaching 101 class led by Belichick.
So when current offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was hired in 2001 after having most recently served as a graduate assistant at Michigan State, his first job was personnel assistant/coaches assistant. He worked hard in that type of role for three years before being elevated to quarterbacks coach.
Current defensive coordinator Matt Patricia had a similar path. After serving as a graduate assistant at Syracuse from 2001-03, his first responsibilities with the Patriots came as a coaching assistant in 2004, then as an assistant offensive line coach (2005) before moving on to linebackers in 2006. The message was clear: As part of your Coaching 101 work, we want you to learn both sides of the ball because it will make you an even better student of the game.
The list goes on and on with those who started in coaching/personnel assistant roles: Bill O'Brien (current Houston Texans coach), Brian Daboll (current Alabama offensive coordinator), Steve Belichick (current safeties coach), Brian Flores (current linebackers coach), Jerry Schuplinski (current assistant quarterbacks coach) and Nick Caley (current tight ends coach) are among the most recent to elevate to larger titles in what is essentially Belichick's version of baseball's farm system.
With this backdrop, and with the Patriots set to hold their first training camp practice on Thursday, it is timely to introduce the team's two new coaching assistants: Brian Belichick and DeMarcus Covington.
Belichick, the youngest son of the head coach, worked last year as a personnel assistant. This year, he's been glued to the hip of Patricia as he transitions into coaching on defense. Brian Belichick graduated from Trinity College in 2016, where he majored in anthropology and played midfield on the Bantam lacrosse team.
Meanwhile, Covington comes to the Patriots after spending last year as co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Eastern Illinois. In 2015, he coached the defensive line at the University of Tennessee-Martin, and the two years prior to that he was a defensive graduate assistant at Ole Miss. In 2012, he was a defensive graduate assistant at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. As a player, Covington was a wide receiver at Samford University, where he totaled 62 receptions for 586 yards and two touchdowns from 2007-10.
Brian Belichick and Covington join Mike Pellegrino and Cole Popovich -- both of whom enter their third seasons with the Patriots -- as this year's coaching assistants.