Coming off a down year offensively, the New England Patriots reached out to a familiar face. Bill O’Brien spent 5 seasons in the Patriots organization, filling various offensive assistant and coordinator roles before being hired away by Penn State in a head coaching capacity. O’Brien was also the head coach for the Houston Texans, in what can only be described as a rocky tenure.
The Patriots finished 26th in the NFL, with 314 offensive yards per game. This was a notable decline from the 2021 season, where rookie QB Mac Jones led the Patriots to 351 yards per game, good enough for 15th. Most around the league expected Mac to take a sizeable jump forward in his second year, but his regression under first year OC Matt Patricia caused fans and analysts to demand a shakeup in strategy.
It’s unclear how moving to a third offensive coordinator in as many years will affect Jones. The reported ties between Jones and O’Brien during their time at the University of Alabama are mostly a stretch. Jones was on his way out, preparing for the NFL draft as O’Brien arrived at Tuscaloosa – maybe they exchanged pleasantries in the hallway?
The New England fan base, while spoiled for much of this millennium, has a right to gripe. Prior to the 2021 season, the team made a relatively large splash in free agency, bringing in additional receiving talent, and signing the top two tight ends on the market. Everyone thought that the Boston TE party was going to be back in a big way – but those plans never materialized.
At any rate, head coach Bill Belichick acknowledging the need for a seasoned offensive mind to call the plays is a step in the right direction for many fans. Only time will tell if this move is enough for New England to reestablish themselves as an AFC powerhouse.