AFC East

Patriots Hire Bill O’Brien as Offensive Coordinator

Patriots
Bill O’Brien coaching Alabama in 2021. AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

The Patriots are bringing back a familiar face as Bill O’Brien is returning as offensive coordinator. That’s according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Low. O’Brien previously served as an assistant in New England from 2007 to 2011 where he was the offensive coordinator for the Patriots run to Super Bowl 46. He spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama.

PATRIOTS OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES

The move appears to be putting a smile on the faces of a lot of Patriots fans. New England struggled offensively during the 2022 season. Following a solid rookie performance, Mac Jones regressed in his second season. While some of it was a sophomore slump, a lot of people attributed it to the Patriots offensive coaches. After previous OC, Josh McDaniels, took the Raiders head coaching job, Pats Head Coach Bill Belichick brought in Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, both fresh off failed stints as head coaches, to work with the offense. Patricia had been a defensive coordinator and Judge had been a special teams coordinator before either got the head coaching jobs.

Bringing back Bill O’Brien, an actual offensive mind, will help Belichick determine if Jones really suffered a sophomore slump or if he hit his ceiling in his rookie year and the team needs to move on. Plus, O’Brien just finished two years as an assistant coach to Nick Saban, who is famously similar to Belichick in his coaching style. He should be able to relate his experience at Alabama with Jones who won a National Championship at Alabama in 2020.

O’BRIEN’S JOURNEY

Since leaving the Patriots following Super Bowl 46, O’Brien has seen a lot of success. He is arguably the most successful former assistant from Bill Belichick’s coaching tree. He spent two years as the head coach at Penn State, taking over in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. His two years there resulted in a resuscitation of the Penn State program that many thought was done following the scandal, the 2012 NCAA Coach of the Year honor and a job as the head coach of the Houston Texans.

His tenure in Houston was more mixed but still overall successful. He only had one losing season in Houston going 4-12 in 2017. The Texans made the playoffs five times in the six full seasons he was there and reached the divisional round three of those five postseasons. He was fired after an 0-4 start to the 2020 season which came about in part due to his failures as General Manager. Simply put, Bill O’Brien the GM got Bill O’Brien the coach fired.

O’Brien spent the last two years at Alabama where he helmed an offense that led the team to the National Championship game in 2021 and a Sugar Bowl victory in 2022. Still, many Bama fans felt O’Brien’s offense didn’t fit and are happy to see him leave.

NEW ENGLAND TIES

As a Massachusetts native, it’s a return home for O’Brien. He got his start in coaching as an assistant at Brown University in Rhode Island. After bouncing around colleges, he made his way to the Patriots coaching staff in 2007. Now he’s back on his home team at a time when they need an offensive mind leading the way. I think he is what Mac Jones needs. I think he is what the Patriots need. And I think him leaving Alabama is still what the Crimson Tide needs. This is a win for Bill O’Brien, the New England Patriots and the University of Alabama.

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