The New England Patriots finished the year with an impressive 12-4 record despite a good deal of coaching turnover heading into the 2019 season. Bill Belichick has already lost two key assistants this offseason when former special teams coordinator Joe Judge took the New York Giants head coaching job and brought defensive line coach Bret Bielema with him. This week the Patriots brought in a new face to potentially fill one of their vacancies.
According to Matt Zenitz of AL.com, the Patriots have added Vinnie Sunseri, a former University of Alabama player and graduate assistant, to their coaching staff.
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The 28-year-old spent time on the Patriots practice squad back in 2016. Sunseri was originally drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fifth-round (No. 167 overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft. He played nine games during his rookie year before being placed on injured reserve. Sunseri also spent all of the 2015 season on IR before being cut loose in April 2016 and scooped up by New England. Following three months with the team, the Patriots cut the safety before he went on to play six games with the San Francisco 49ers.
Sunseri transitioned to the coaching ranks for the 2019 season, joining Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama.
Devin McCourty Sounds Off on New Hire
Patriots veteran S Devin McCourty has spent the last decade in New England after being drafted No. 27 overall in 2010. This year the 32-year-old is one of a few high profile Patriots free agents, although he recently expressed his desire to return to the team for the 2020 season.
McCourty sounded off on the hiring of Sunseri during his podcast “Double Coverage With the McCourty Twins.”
“He was in New England while I was there, in the safety room,” said McCourty. “Very energetic, funny guy. All you New Englanders that watch this, you’re getting an energized guy, a that knows the game. He coached at Alabama. His dad (Sal Sunseri) is a coach, so he’s one of those kids that they say, ‘He’s a coach’s son.’
The 10-year veteran further praised his former teammate, calling Sunseri a “very bright mind.”
“He understands technique,” McCourty later said. “He understands leverage. He understands everything because he does it perfectly, and now he is also following in his dad’s steps. His older brother (Tino Sunseri) actually a coach, too, that was at Alabama. Vinnie was there in the spring and was hanging out with him. So I’m happy to see him in New England. I think he’ll be a very bright mind added to the coaching staff.”
Although Sunseri’s exact role remains unclear heading into the offseason, it’s likely that it will have some overlap with the safeties room that he’s had some prior experience with.
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