Two coaches on Sean Payton‘s staffs will meet with the Patriots about their defensive coordinator position. Broncos DBs coach Christian Parker and Saints linebackers coach Michael Hodges will meet about the gig, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport note.
Often reluctant to hand out titles during Bill Belichick‘s run, the Patriots have not gone into a season with a pure DC on their staff since Matt Patricia‘s initial departure following Super Bowl LII. Brian Flores and Jerod Mayo have operated as de facto Pats DCs, with an obvious assist from Belichick, since Patricia left for Detroit’s HC job. Mayo appears ready to change the team’s policy regarding the position.
Parker, 32, is among the few coaches held over from previous Broncos staffs. Payton thought enough of the Vic Fangio-era hire to interview him for the DC job that ended up going to Vance Joseph last year. This will, then, mark Parker’s second meeting about an NFL DC post. That meeting will occur today, per Pelissero.
The only Broncos assistant kept from the Fangio staff, Parker has been the Broncos’ DBs coach for the past three seasons. That tenure overlaps with Patrick Surtain‘s three-year career. Both Surtain and Justin Simmons have earned All-Pro recognition under Parker, who came over from Green Bay in 2021. Denver also coaxed production from new starters P.J. Locke and Ja’Quan McMillian, the latter a rookie UDFA slot corner, this season.
This does mark Hodges’ first DC interview. A Payton hire back in 2018, Hodges, 37, has been in place as New Orleans’ linebackers coach since 2020. The Saints have deployed Demario Davis as one of the NFL’s most versatile linebackers during Hodges’ span as the position coach. Davis has earned first- or second-team All-Pro acclaim in five straight seasons, totaling at least 105 tackles and 20 combined sacks during Hodges’ four years leading the position group. As a whole, the Saints have ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense during each of Hodges’ seasons in his current role.
Parker and Hodges accompany Panthers outside linebackers coach Tem Lukabu as candidates for this position. Parker’s Broncos interview represents this trio’s only previous meeting about a DC post, with Mayo opting for up-and-coming candidates thus far. Patriots defensive reliability has been one of this century’s NFL hallmarks. The Belichick-led unit ranked as a top-15 scoring defense 21 times in his 24-season tenure, finishing as a top-10 unit in 18 of those years.