By Craig Ellenport | Jan. 24, 2019
If the theme of Super Bowl LIII is the Los Angeles Rams’ youth vs. the New England Patriots’ experience, then there is one person on the Patriots side that might deserve as much notice as head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who turns 71 on Feb. 15, is New England’s secret weapon.
Well, he’s a secret among casual NFL fans, but everyone in the league recognizes Scarnecchia’s value. He is the longest-tenured coach in the league with one team, having just completed his 33rd season with the Patriots. He’s been part of Patriots coaching staffs that have won 17 division titles, 10 conference titles and four Super Bowls. He’s been to the Super Bowl under three different head coaches – Ron Meyer (Super Bowl XX), Bill Parcells (Super Bowl XXXI) and Belichick.
Scarnecchia has coached several different positions over the years, but he took over as o-line coach in 1999 and has been in that role ever since. It’s not a coincidence that his time as offensive line coach lines up with the Patriots’ two-decade run as the most dominant team in football.
Ross Tucker wrote a story Wednesday for The Athletic in which he talked about the importance of position coaches in the NFL, but it was more specifically a tribute to Scarnecchia.
As Tucker noted, the Patriots faced some pretty dangerous pass rushers in their two playoff wins this month. Brady dropped back to pass 81 times combined against the Chargers and Chiefs … and Scarnecchia’s line gave up zero sacks.
The o-line will face another great challenge in Super Bowl LIII. Namely, they must find a way to neutralize all-world defensive lineman Aaron Donald. The entire Rams front seven had a strong effort in the NFL Championship Game win over the Saints, so Scarnecchia has his work cut out for him.
According to Tucker, Scarnecchia succeeds because he has great attention to detail and he works his players hard.
“I had nine offensive line coaches during my time in the NFL and that included big names in the offensive line world like Jim McNally and Joe Bugel,” Tucker wrote, “yet nobody ever got more out of their players than the guy affectionately known as ‘Scar.’”