Bill O’Brien was floated as an obvious candidate to replace Josh McDaniels last winter.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and Texans head coach Bill O'Brien (right) shake hands after New England's victory. The New England Patriots hosted the Houston Texans in a Thursday night NFL regular season football game.
Jim Davis / Globe Staff

As soon as Josh McDaniels left the Patriots last January to coach the Raiders, Bill O’Brien was floated as an obvious candidate to replace New England’s longtime offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

The Patriots eventually hired O’Brien … but a year later. 

Instead, Bill Belichick handed the keys to the offense to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge in 2022, leading to disastrous results in a sub-.500 campaign.

So why did Belichick and the Patriots not hire O’Brien last winter after McDaniels departed for Vegas?

According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, Belichick didn’t try to pry O’Brien from his previous role as the University of Alabama’s offensive coordinator because of concerns that he would leave New England for another NFL head-coaching gig. 

“[It’s] certainly fair to ask why [Belichick] didn’t just go get O’Brien last year,” Breer wrote. “I’m told the reason he didn’t even pursue it with [Nick] Saban was out of fear that O’Brien might do well enough in a year to land a head coaching job elsewhere, leaving the Patriots to replace a coordinator two years in a row.”

Belichick’s fears were eventually realized but for a different reason, as New England needed to replace a coordinator once again because Patricia and Judge struggled in their new roles.

New England’s offensive ineptitude was so deep-rooted that Belichick reportedly was “moonlighting as play-caller at points” last season. 

If O’Brien can orchestrate a third-year rebound for Mac Jones and resurrect New England’s offense, more head-coaching positions might loom on the horizon for the 53-year-old coordinator.

Given Jones’ regression in 2022 and the Patriots’ need to right the ship offensively, losing O’Brien in the coming years is a risk the franchise will need to take.

Potential replacements for O’Brien further down the Patriots’ coaching pipeline include names like Nick Caley, Troy Brown, and Vinnie Sunseri.

Caley, who has served as the Patriots’ tight ends coach since 2017, interviewed for the Jets’ vacant offensive coordinator position earlier this month. New York eventually hired former Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett to run its offense.


Source link