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Bill O’Brien to Ohio State, New England Needs New OC

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New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, left, talks to quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) during an NFL Football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Bill O’Brien’s second stint with the New England Patriots is over after just one season. The offensive coordinator has reportedly agreed to take the same position with the Ohio State Buckeyes. It is a return to college for O’Brien, who spent time as the head coach of Penn State, and offensive coordinator at Alabama. The move solidifies speculation that the Patriots will be looking for a new offensive coordinator under new head coach Jerod Mayo.

O’Brien was the Patriots offensive coordinator in 2011, before leaving to take the Penn State job. New England’s offensive finished top three in both points and yards. This past season’s squad finished bottom three in both categories. Of course this year’s team did not have Tom Brady throwing to All-Pros Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski either. The players seemed to buy into the offensive plan in preseason, but things quickly went off the rails when the games began.

Exit Comes as No Surprise

In a recent Boston Herald article about the dysfunction of the 2023 New England Patriots, Bill O’Brien and his relationships with the rest of the offensive staff was a major topic. There appeared to be a hierarchy in place, which seemed to sour some relationships among the staff. During Jerod Mayo’s introductory press conference, he made references to a few things that could have been related to Bill O’Brien.

Jerod Mayo said he wants to, “rebuild relationships, knock down silos, and collaborate.” The Boston Herald article suggested the offensive side of the ball in particular had too many relationship issues, existing silos, and lack of collaboration. Others have suggested there was a lack of collaboration in the front office and scouting departments as well, so the comment should not be taken as solely a jab at O’Brien, but it does seem to fit.

Mayo also explained, “you have to show them (the players) that you care about them before you get into X’s and O’s.” It was easy to imagine players like quarterback Mac Jones, who was at the press conference, enjoying this new philosophy.

But most telling was Mayo stating, “the staff I’ve been working with isn’t the staff that I’ve chosen.” So it comes as no surprise that Jerod Mayo is looking to build his own coaching staff in New England. Whether it was O’Brien’s choice, Mayo’s choice, or a mutual decision, Bill O’Brien will not be part of that new staff.

New England’s Next Offensive Coordinator

With Bill O’Brien out, New England needs a new offensive coordinator in 2024. Who that will be remains to be seen. During Mayo’s introductory press conference, Robert Kraft discussed how he likes to promote from within at all of his companies. The strongest candidate among the 2023 staff would seem to be wide receivers coach Troy Brown, who will be the offensive coordinator at the Senior Bowl next month.

Other candidates with ties to the New England Patriots include Josh McDaniels (former Raiders head coach), Wes Welker (Dolphins wide receivers coach), and Nick Caley (Rams tight ends coach). However, it is likely that New England will interview outside candidates as well before making a final decision. With the franchise at a key turning point, finding the right replacement for Bill O’Brien will be crucial.

Award-winning blogger, Dan's work has also been featured on Fox Sports, Boston Metro, Barstool Sports, MLB.com, and many other outlets.

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