New England Patriots

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 22: Head coach Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks at plays from the sidelines during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS, MO – DECEMBER 22: Head coach Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks at plays from the sidelines during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Greg Schiano’s departure from the Patriots appeared abrupt. But apparently, Bill Belichick knew it was coming.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport said last Thursday on the NFL Network that Schiano’s decision was two weeks in the making. So if Belichick and the Patriots intended to hire a new defensive coordinator to replace him, there’s a chance something may have happened by now.

“Bill Belichick has been aware of this and he said in his statement … that this is something that he supports, essentially Schiano stepping away from the football field to focus on a family situation,” Rapoport said. Schiano’s family situation was described to Rapoport as “private”.

With Schiano gone and possibly no imminent replacement in New England, that may leave Belichick himself to coordinate the defense. He could at least start the 2019 season calling the plays on defense while he grooms a younger coach for the role, like he did with Matt Patricia in the first half of the 2010 season.

The numbers that season bear out that the defense ran a lot smoother and played markedly better once Patricia assumed full-time play-calling duties and Belichick was able to resume a full focus on head coaching. After allowing 23.5 points per game in the first half of the season, they averaged just 15.6 points over the final eight games.

It’s less clear who Belichick could groom to be the next defensive coordinator than it was with Patricia in 2010. Possible in-house candidates include Belichick’s son Steve, who is currently the safeties coach, and newly announced linebackers coach Jerod Mayo.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.