DeMarcus Covington

Patriots Notes: Covington, Brown, Wolf

Considering New England’s unconventional approach to their defensive coaching staff in recent years, it was uncertain how much control new defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington would have on Jerod Mayo‘s staff. It sounds like Covington will have full authority over his defense, as the coach revealed to reporters today that he’ll be the defensive play-caller this season (via Karen Guregian of MassLive).

It had been years since Bill Belichick employed a traditional DC, with Mayo and Steve Belichick most recently splitting the unofficial role. The younger Belichick was the one calling defensive plays, but he won’t be sticking around New England after taking the DC job at the University of Washington. Mayo himself could have been a candidate for the defensive play-caller role, but it sounds like he’ll be leaning on his DC during games.

This will be Covington’s first time serving in either of those two roles in the NFL. Following a one-season stint as Eastern Illinois’ DC, he’s served in a variety of roles on New England’s coaching staff.

On the other side of the ball, Troy Brown will be sticking around as the Patriots’ wide receivers coach (via Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald). The long-time Patriots WR transitioned to coaching following his playing career, and he’s guided New England’s wideouts since the 2021 campaign. With Mayo revamping the coaching staff, it was uncertain if Brown would be retained in his current role.

Elsewhere in New England, there’s been a bit of confusion surrounding who’s actually leading the front office. Eliot Wolf is expected to control the 53-man roster for at least the time being, and it sounds like the executive had some extra responsibilities while Mayo filled his coaching staff. The new Patriots head coach told reporters that Wolf participated in all of the coaching interviews this offseason (via Kyed).

The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame executive Ron Wolf, Eliot Wolf spent more than a decade with Green Bay before joining New England’s operation. His experience with the Packers has clearly been reflected on the coaching staff, as the team has brought in ex-Packers assistants like Alex Van Pelt, Ben McAdoo, Jerry Montgomery and Alonzo Highsmith.

2024 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

The offensive and defensive coordinator carousels are in winding down. Here is how the OC and DC searches look:

Updated 2-14-24 (5:50pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dave Ragone)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Ken Dorsey)

  • Joe Brady, interim offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (Bills): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed

Carolina Panthers (Out: Thomas Brown)

  • Marcus Brady, senior offensive assistant (Eagles): Interview requested
  • Brad Idzik, wide receivers coach (Buccaneers): Hired

Chicago Bears (Out: Luke Getsy)

Cincinnati Bengals (Out: Brian Callahan)

  • Andy Dickerson, offensive line coach (Seahawks): To interview
  • Dan Pitcher, quarterbacks coach (Bengals): Promoted

Cleveland Browns (Out: Alex Van Pelt)

Las Vegas Raiders (Out: Mick Lombardi)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Kellen Moore)

New England Patriots (Out: Bill O’Brien)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Pete Carmichael)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Brian Johnson)

  • Jerrod Johnson, quarterbacks coach (Texans): Interviewed
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Interviewed 1/23
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Chargers): Hired

Pittsburgh Steelers (Out: Matt Canada)

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Shane Waldron)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Dave Canales)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Tim Kelly)

  • Nick Holz, passing game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed
  • Eric Studesville, associate head coach/running backs coach (Dolphins): Interview requested

Washington Commanders (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Chip Kelly, former head coach (Eagles/49ers): On team’s radar
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Hired

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Ryan Nielsen)

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Mike Macdonald)

  • Zach Orr, inside linebackers coach (Ravens): Promoted

Buffalo Bills

  • Bobby Babich, linebackers coach (Bills): Promoted
  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Sean Desai, former defensive coordinator (Eagles): To interview

Chicago Bears (Out: Alan Williams)

  • Joe Barry, former defensive coordinator (Packers): To interview 1/27
  • Chris Harris, secondary coach (Titans): To interview
  • Eric Washington, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Bills): Hired
  • Terrell Williams, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Titans): To interview

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Dan Quinn)

Green Bay Packers (Out: Joe Barry)

Jacksonville Jaguars (Out: Mike Caldwell)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Derrick Ansley)

  • Jesse Minter, defensive coordinator (Michigan): Hired

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Raheem Morris)

Miami Dolphins (Out: Vic Fangio)

New England Patriots

  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Promoted
  • Michael Hodges, linebackers coach (Saints): To interview
  • Tem Lukabu, outside linebackers coach (Panthers): To interview
  • Christian Parker, defensive backs coach (Broncos): Interviewed

New York Giants (Out: Don Martindale)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Sean Desai)

  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Vic Fangio, former defensive coordinator (Dolphins): Hired
  • Ron Rivera, former head coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/22

San Francisco 49ers (Out: Steve Wilks)

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Clint Hurtt)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Shane Bowen)

  • Brandon Lynch, cornerbacks coach (Browns): Interviewed 1/30
  • Dennard Wilson, defensive backs coach (Ravens): Hired

Washington Commanders (Out: Jack Del Rio)

  • Joe Cullen, defensive line coach (Chiefs): Considered a candidate
  • Joe Whitt, defensive backs coach (Cowboys): Hired

Patriots Promote DeMarcus Covington To DC

2:21pm: The Patriots have made it official, announcing that Covington will be promoted to the defensive coordinator position. Under the new head coach, Mayo, Covington will officially be the team’s first defensive coordinator since Matt Patricia left in 2017.

11:57am: It sounds like Jerod Mayo has zeroed in on his defensive coordinator. According to Albert Breer of SI.com, “all signs point” to the Patriots promoting defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington to defensive coordinator.

While the Patriots haven’t announced the move, Breer notes that the organization has notified other candidates that they’re out of the running. The move is expected to be made official early next week.

Covington has spent his entire NFL coaching career with the Patriots, working his way up from coaching assistant to defensive line coach, a role that he’s held for the past four seasons. Covington has helped with the development of former second-round pick Christian Barmore, and Matt Judon and Josh Uche have both had success on the edge under the coach’s tutelage.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport notes that Covington impressed during last year’s coordinator interviews, as the coach met about the DC jobs with the Cardinals and Chargers. It seemed like only a matter of time before he earned a coordinator job, and that opportunity has apparently come in New England.

The Patriots didn’t employ a traditional defensive coordinator during Bill Belichick‘s final seasons in New England, but Mayo and Steve Belichick were generally considered the leaders of the defensive coaching staff. Considering Mayo having been promoted to head coach and the younger Belichick’s uncertain future with the organization, the organization looked to fill the leadership void on their staff. Covington was one of four known candidates for the position, joining Saints linebackers coach Michael Hodges, Panthers outside linebackers coach Tem Lukabu, and Broncos defensive backs coach Christian Parker.

Elsewhere in New England, the Patriots have added two offensive coordinator candidates to the mix. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that the Patriots interviewed 49ers tight ends coach Brian Fleury for their offensive coordinator job. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler adds that former Bears OC Luke Getsy also interviewed for the position.

Fleury has spent the past five seasons in San Francisco, including the past two in his current role. With Fleury leading the tight ends, George Kittle hauled in a career-high 11 touchdowns in 2022. This past season, Kittle topped the 1,000-yards receiving mark for the first time since the 2020 campaign.

Getsy lost his job earlier this month despite guiding one of the league’s top rushing attacks over the past two seasons. Before his two-year stint in Chicago, Getsy spent three seasons with the Packers as their quarterbacks coach.

Patriots Interviewing Candidates For Coordinator Positions

New Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo has been on the job for a week now and is starting to look into filling out his coaching staff. A report from Jonathan Jones of NFL on CBS informed of the team’s plan to interview their current defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington for their open defensive coordinator position. In addition, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that New England would interview Rams assistant special teams coach Jeremy Springer for a special teams coaching job.

Covington has been in New England since 2017, when he earned his first NFL job as a coaching assistant. Before coming to the NFL, Covington worked as a defensive graduate assistant at UAB and Ole Miss. He followed that up with a defensive line coaching job at UT Martin and co-defensive coordinator position while coaching the defensive line at Eastern Illinois. Covington was promoted from coaching assistant to outside linebackers coach of the Patriots in 2019, the year Mayo was hired to coach inside linebackers. He transitioned to defensive line coach in 2020, where he’s remained ever since.

Since allowing Matt Patricia to depart for a head coaching gig in Detroit in 2018, the Patriots have not traditionally staffed a defensive coordinator. They’ve had defensive position coaches who delivered play calls to the wearer of the green helmet sticker, like Brian Flores and Steve Belichick after him, and people have speculated that Bill Belichick, a former defensive coordinator himself, was the one determining what plays to call, but much like 2022’s offensive play-calling mystery in New England, the team claims defensive play-calling to be the culmination of many different inputs. While that method may continue into 2024, it appears Mayo interviewing Covington displays a willingness to actually award the coordinator title to someone on staff for the first time since 2017.

Special teams, on the other hand, has been the responsibility of special teams coordinator Cameron Achord since 2020. Rapoport didn’t specify that the position Springer was expected to interview for would be a coordinator position, but Springer is considered one of the rising young coaches in the NFL, so it’s hard to imagine him changing teams for another assistant job. If that’s the case, it could point towards Achord either being an unlikely holdover candidate on Mayo’s new staff or being a likely special teams coordinator candidate wherever Belichick ends up. Springer has been with the Rams for the past two seasons after eight years coaching in at the collegiate level.

Whether or not Covington or Springer end up on Mayo’s 2024 Patriots staff, both interviews underline the start of the new regime in New England. No longer are the Patriots under the watchful eye of a multi-role head coach/coordinator/general manager. Mayo is establishing a new norm in New England, one subscribed to by most other teams in the NFL.

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spun for several weeks, many teams made coordinator changes as well. Teams seeking new head coaches are conducting OC and DC searches, and a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

This is a big year for offensive coordinator hires, with nearly half the league making changes. Here are the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 3-1-23 (3:31pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals 

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Ben McAdoo)

  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach, (Rams): Hired
  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

  • Brian Angelichio, tight ends coach (Vikings): Interviewed 2/2
  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach (Rams): Interviewed
  • Jeff Nixon, running backs coach (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Brian Schottenheimer, offensive consultant (Cowboys): Hired

Denver Broncos (Out: Justin Outten)

Houston Texans (Out: Pep Hamilton)

Indianapolis Colts (Out: Parks Frazier)

  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Tee Martin, wide receivers coach (Ravens): Interview requested

Kansas City Chiefs (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach (Chiefs): Hired

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Shane Steichen)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Vance Joseph)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Leslie Frazier)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Al Holcomb)

  • Ejiro Evero, former defensive coordinator (Broncos): Hired
  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Interviewed
  • Marquand Manuel, safeties coach (Jets): Interviewed
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans 

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Renaldo Hill)

  • Derrick Ansley, defensive backs coach (Chargers): Promoted
  • Doug Belk, defensive coordinator (Houston): Interviewed
  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Interviewed

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Ryan Nielsen, Kris Richard)

  • Joe Woods, former defensive coordinator (Browns): Hired

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Jonathan Gannon)

San Francisco 49ers (Out: DeMeco Ryans)

  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): On radar
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/31
  • Kris Kocurek, defensive line coach (49ers): On radar
  • Steve Wilks, former interim head coach (Panthers): Hired

Chargers Interview DeMarcus Covington, Doug Belk For DC

Following Renaldo Hill‘s exit for Miami, the Chargers are expected to promote defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley to defensive coordinator. But the team is either looking into more options or covering its bases.

The Bolts have interviewed Patriots defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington and University of Houston defensive coordinator Doug Belk for the role, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Teams must interview at least one external minority candidate for coordinator positions to comply with the Rooney Rule.

It is unclear if the Chargers are set on Ansley, though the initial report of the two-year DBs coach being ticketed for the promotion points to that still being the team’s plan. Both Ansley, 41, and Covington have coached in the NFL for several seasons; Belk has been with Houston for the past four.

The Chargers will have two new coordinators in 2023. Following the team’s decision to fire OC Joe Lombardi and hire Kellen Moore, Hill left for a non-DC job on Vic Fangio‘s staff. Hill, who coached on Fangio’s Broncos staff from 2019-20, is now the Dolphins’ defensive pass-game coordinator.

This marks an interesting shakeup for a Bolts team that won 10 games in 2022. That said, the Chargers are coming off a 27-point playoff collapse in Jacksonville. The team is not believed to have strongly considered firing Brandon Staley, but the two-year HC’s seat temperature certainly increased because of the way his team’s season ended.

Belk, 35, has hovered off the NFL radar prior to this interview, and Houston is coming off a down defensive season. The American Athletic Conference team slid to 112th nationally in scoring defense (32.2 points allowed per game). Belk, who was the Cougars’ co-DC from 2019-20, did helm a top-20 scoring defense in 2021, however. Houston went 12-2 that year.

Covington, 33, interviewed for the Cardinals’ DC job recently and can be considered a candidate to monitor for future positions at the very least. He has been New England’s D-line coach for three seasons. The Patriots hired Covington out of the college ranks back in 2017. The Cardinals ended up going with Nick Rallis for their DC post; at 29, Rallis is currently the league’s youngest coordinator.

Cardinals Request DC Interviews With Dave Borgonzi, DeMarcus Covington

After Jonathan Gannon informed Vance Joseph he was free to explore other opportunities, the Cardinals are moving on their defensive coordinator search. Two interview requests went out Friday morning.

The NFC West team requested DC meetings with Bears linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi and Patriots defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter links). Borgonzi is scheduled to interview for the job Saturday.

[RELATED: Cardinals Send Out OC Interview Requests]

Borgonzi followed Matt Eberflus to Chicago, having spent four seasons as Indianapolis’ linebackers coach. Gannon was on that Frank Reich-led Indy staff from 2018-20. Covington, who is just 33, has been the Patriots’ D-line coach since 2020 and has worked in New England since 2017. That tenure overlapped with new Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort, and Rapoport adds the two have been friends for a bit. These are the first two interview requests the Cards have sent out regarding their DC position.

Covington has steadily climbed the ladder in New England, moving from an assistant position to outside linebackers coach to D-line coach since 2017. The Pats hired the young assistant out of the college ranks; he spent the 2016 season as Eastern Illinois’ co-defensive coordinator. This is Covington’s first DC interview opportunity, and Ossenfort’s presence stands to give the six-year Pats staffer a decent chance of receiving another title bump.

Borgonzi oversaw the first four seasons of Shaquille Leonard‘s career. Three of those produced first-team All-Pro honors for the star linebacker, and Bobby Okereke‘s production also reflects well on Borgonzi. The Bears traded Roquan Smith midway through Borgonzi’s first Chicago season, continuing a teardown that gave its defensive staffers less talent to manage. The Bears ranked last in scoring defense in 2022, but Borgonzi will receive an opportunity to state his case for an elevation. Borgonzi has been in the NFL since joining the Cowboys’ staff in 2011.

Bill Belichick Expected To Call Patriots’ Defensive Plays?

Nearly two months after Greg Schiano backtracked on his commitment to become the Patriots’ defensive coordinator, the job remains unfilled. Should it stay vacant, the Pats would have a fairly reliable contingency plan.

With Bill Belichick towering over his defensive staff in terms of NFL experience, the current expectation is he will call defensive plays for the Patriots this season, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes.

Ceding that responsibility to Matt Patricia and Brian Flores for the past several years, Belichick obviously played a key role in the Pats’ defense. Belichick would often determine when Patricia or Flores would call blitzes, Volin adds. The eight-time Super Bowl champion, counting his two as Giants DC, is coming off perhaps the Super Bowl’s defensive masterpiece — the Rams’ three-point night — and his teams have fielded a top-10 scoring defense 15 times in his 19-year New England tenure.

However, Belichick in a dual role is not the Pats’ official plan just yet. They will use the OTAs and minicamp period to determine their strategy here, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link). Flores’ exit leaves the Patriots light on experience among their defensive staff, with former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema — previously viewed as a DC option — bringing the most seasoning. And most of that came in college.

After a year of consulting with the team, Bielema is slated to coach New England’s defensive line. Jerod Mayo, whom Garafolo adds is viewed as a possible future defensive coordinator, will split linebackers coaching duties with DeMarcus Covington — with Mayo working with the inside ‘backers and Covington assigned to help the outside players. Mike Pellegrino will oversee the cornerbacks, the team announced. Mayo, Covington and Pellegrino will be first-year position coaches.

Barring an outside hire, or the Patriots handing the reins to Bielema, Belichick would seem the logical choice to play the lead role on defense.