Could These 5 NFL Teams Lure Bill O'Brien Away from Penn State?
Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien is one of the many coaches from the college ranks who many teams in the NFL will try to lure into the next level.
According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, O'Brien could be open to the possibility to jump to the NFL, stating:
...sources say teams that have gauged his interest have been informed by a third party representative that when O'Brien accepted the task of being the late Joe Paterno's successor, he was told by school officials that the Jerry Sandusky scandal was a criminal matter, not an NCAA concern. That proved to be bad information as Penn State was dealt a four-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions as part of its penalties.
Mortensen did reiterate that other sources have claimed that O'Brien, "would not leave Penn State for just any NFL job."
However, Sports Illustrated's Peter King has tweeted out that O'Brien is seriously considering interviewing for an NFL Head Coaching position:
Happy Valley alert: I hear Bill O'Brien is strongly considering interviewing with an NFL team.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) January 1, 2013
Teams are still reaching out to O'Brien, who is reported to be on the shortlist of many NFL teams. CBSSports.com's Jason LaCanfora even tweeted out four teams who could be interested in O'Brien.
CLE, AZ, PHI and SD all interested in Penn State's Bill O'Brien according to pro and college sources. Pursuit begins this week— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 1, 2013
Despite the teams in pursuit, O'Brien has always publicly said he will stay at Penn State. But if he does have a change of heart, here are some teams that the former New England offensive coordinator could immediately help.
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The Bills were not named on Jason La Canfora's list of teams that will attempt to reach out to O'Brien; however, he would make sense as the next head coach in Buffalo.
The Bills are looking to upgrade at the quarterback position this offseason, and O'Brien's experience with Tom Brady (while also helping to develop Ryan Mallett) in New England could help him achieve the goal of developing Buffalo's next signal-caller.
O'Brien also will likely do something Chan Gailey failed to do at times during his tenure in Buffalo and properly utilize C.J. Spiller, who is one of the most exciting players in the NFL today, but often found himself without the ball when the Bills needed him to run the most.
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Names sources tell me on eag owner jeff lurie coach list. Bill Obrien,dirk koetter,greg Roman,bruce arians,chip kelly @profootballtalk— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) December 31, 2012
It's no surprise that Bill O'Brien is on that list, partially due to the Penn State ties to the Philadelphia area, as well as O'Brien's track record in the NFL prior to taking the Penn State job.
The Eagles already have plenty of offensive weapons in place for O'Brien to use in the form of rookie quarterback Nick Foles, running backs Bryce Brown and LeSean McCoy and wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson.
He would have to rebuild Philadelphia's putrid offensive line; however, with offense being O'Brien's specialty, this will be done. The Eagles are a talented team with great playmakers on offense, and O'Brien employing his "NASCAR" offense to the Eagles would make for an exciting football team that can jump in the NFC East standings by leaps and bounds in 2013.
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Taking over a 10-6 team where you need not worry about fixing the defense is the best position an offensive-oriented head coach could ask himself.
Especially when there's talent on offense to work with and the main focus is fixing one aspect of that offense that is holding everyone back.
In the case of the Chicago Bears, that aspect is their porous and unstable offensive line. It would be Bill O'Brien's first priority in Chicago, but once he got that fixed through the draft and free agency, he does have the weapons to play with in Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffrey.
It will also be interesting to see how he uses Devin Hester, assuming, of course, he's not serious about pondering retirement.
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The challenge in Arizona: find a coach who can develop a quarterback that can get Larry Fitzgerald the ball.
Is Bill O'Brien up to the challenge? La Canfora mentioned the Cardinals as a possible landing spot for the former Patriots offensive coordinator, but a lot of work has to be done in Arizona.
The Cardinals defense is better than many people thought, but was worn down as the season went on by a bad offense that kept it on the field. That side of the ball could use a bit more help, but it's not the most glaring issue for the team.
What is, much like the Eagles and Bears, is its offensive line. Because of Arizona's porous pass protection, it went through four starting quarterbacks. Getting stability at the position is key, but it won't be able to without a major offensive line overhaul.
O'Brien could then decide to use one of the quarterbacks currently in place or draft one of his own to develop. His work with quarterbacks over the years has been solid, and as long as the Cards offensive line is repaired, he should find success in the desert.
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Finding any semblance of stability in Cleveland has been tough since the Browns re-entered the league in 1999.
Sticking to one starting quarterback has been a problem, as a series of bad quarterbacks and bad luck have forced the Browns to embark on a seemingly endless quest for their first great signal-caller since Bernie Kosar.
Sticking to one head coach has been an even bigger challenge. Whether they find their head coach through promising NFL assistants, former NFL head coaches or through the college ranks, the Browns have seen coach after coach flame out with only a losing record to show for it.
However, with a new owner and new general manager, the Browns will once again attempt to rebuild from scratch, something that Bill O'Brien has been capable of doing after one year in Happy Valley.
Coaching the Browns will likely be the longest leash O'Brien could ask for because this will be a long rebuilding project. While the Browns played hard in every game this season, their talent level compared to the rest of the AFC North is lacking.
This is a team that can give O'Brien the opportunity to build the way he wants to.