The Patriots are one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history, and all of the well-known names have done their part to get the franchise to where it is today. There’s team owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and of course QB Tom Brady. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has had a couple of stints with the team, helping them win some of their six Super Bowls.
However, there is one relatively unknown person who has been a big part of developing the Patriots’ dynasty in the 21st century. That mystery man is Ernie Adams.
Who is Ernie Adams and what does he do?
Ernie Adams has been part of Bill Belichick’s staff for virtually his entire head coaching career — dating back to when the Browns first hired Belichick in 1991.
He is at every practice and every game. His official title is the Patriots’ director of football research. That sounds impressive, but no one seems to know what that means or what Adams does with the team. He’s credited with helping with scouting, player research, and other parts of the game. But his official job description is a mystery.
Even most Patriots players aren’t sure what Ernie Adams does
During the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Boston radio station WEEI asked Patriots players what Adams does, and most of them didn’t seem to know. Rookie DE Adam Butler said he thinks Adams does quality control, while OL Ted Karras responded with “not much. He’s a guy that is around every day and does his job.” CB Eric Rowe offered a little more insight into Adams’ role with the team, describing him as “probably one of the smartest guys next to Bill [Belichick].”
Rowe continued by saying that Adams breaks down offense, defense, and special teams. He also picks the plays teams are probably going to run against the Patriots.
The Spygate mastermind?
There is also controversy surrounding Adams, who was reportedly the mastermind behind Spygate, the scandal that alleged the Patriots illegally stole Jets’ coaches’ signals during a 2007 game between the rivals.
According to a 2015 ESPN investigative report, Adams would sit in the coaches’ box with binoculars and a headset that gave him a direct audio link to Belichick. Adams watched for the opposing teams’ signals and when he saw one he recognized, he’d relay it to the coach and tell him what play to look out for.
Ernie Adams’ importance to the Patriots’ success
Belichick himself talks about how critical Adams has been to the success the Patriots have had in the last two decades. He told the Boston Globe in 2015 that Adams is a “great sounding board” to him and other members of the staff concerning “strategy, rules, decisions.”
Belichick praised Adams for being “very, very smart” and having “great historical perspective,” which he says sometimes comes into play. While nobody outside of the Patriots complex seems to know exactly what Adams does, one thing is clear — he is Belichick’s confidant.
If Belichick trusts Adams as much as he does, he is a good football mind who brings a lot to the team. Given that, it seems that the Patriots’ dynasty might not be as strong as it has been for so long if Adams wasn’t a part of the franchise.
Being a mystery man
Northwestern Magazine interviewed Adams — a 1975 graduate of the school — in 2008. During the talk, Adams admitted that he has “always preferred to fly under the radar. I just don’t need a lot of notice. I love what I do, and that’s enough.”
He may not need a lot of notice, but he’s getting it because of how much he has helped build the Patriots’ dynasty — even if his actual role with the team is a mystery to most.