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University of Washington Huskies Football

Huskies reportedly expected to hire Steve Belichick as defensive coordinator

Bill Belichick and his son Steve chat on the sidelines of a 2022 New England Patriots game in Foxboro, Massachusetts.   (Tribune News Service)
By Shane Lantz Seattle Times

The Washington football program has reportedly chosen the new leader of its defense, and his name might sound familiar.

Bruce Feldman of the Athletic reported late Sunday night that former New England Patriots assistant coach Steve Belichick is expected to be hired as the program’s defensive coordinator. ESPN’s Field Yates added in a social media post Monday that Belichick has accepted the role, which has yet to be officially announced.

Belichick, 36, is the son of legendary Patriots coach Bill Belichick and called plays for the Patriots defense the last four seasons. He has yet to serve as a defensive coordinator on any level.

Former Patriots running backs coach (and Alabama safety) Vinnie Sunseri is also expected to join UW’s staff, Feldman reported Monday . It’s likely Sunseri will oversee the Husky safeties.

The younger Belichick was first hired by the Patriots in 2012 as a defensive assistant, and was promoted to safeties coach in 2016. He took over play-calling duties in 2019 when Brian Flores left to become head coach of the Miami Dolphins, and has been the Patriots outside linebackers coach since 2020.

With Belichick calling the plays last season, the Patriots allowed the seventh-fewest yards in the NFL with 5,127 yards, despite the team’s disappointing 4-13 record.

The run defense in particular excelled, finishing the season with an average of 3.3 yards allowed per rushing attempt, the best mark in the Bill Belichick era.

Steve Belichick is the second son of a famous NFL head coach to join Jedd Fisch’s staff, with Brennan Carroll, son of former Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, set to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 2024.

Sunseri, meanwhile, spent the last three seasons as the Patriots running backs coach. The 32-year-old Pittsburgh native played safety under Nick Saban at Alabama, and later returned as a graduate assistant for the Crimson Tide in 2019. He was selected by the Saints in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft and played three professional seasons. He joined the Patriots staff as a defensive coaching assistant in 2020, before flipping to the offensive side a year later.

Belichick, Sunseri and Fisch worked together when Fisch was New England’s quarterbacks coach in 2020.

Fisch said on Seattle Sports 710 AM last week that his coaching staff will likely be completed by Monday. The prospective hires of Belichick and Sunseri leave one additional spot on UW’s staff, likely overseeing the Husky linebackers.

UW’s existing staff consists entirely of coaches Fisch brought from Arizona: offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Brennan Carroll, pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jimmie Dougherty, tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Jordan Paopao, running backs coach Scottie Graham, wide receivers coach Kevin Cummings, run game coordinator and defensive line coach Jason Kaufusi, and secondary coach Jason Richardson.