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Patriots Rumors: Bill O'Brien Linked to Bill Belichick's Potential Coaching Changes

Doric SamJanuary 11, 2023

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien, left, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick speak at midfield after an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

After a disappointing season and falling short of the playoffs, the New England Patriots could be facing some changes this offseason.

ESPN's Dan Graziano reports that there's a chance head coach Bill Belichick turns to a familiar face to help improve his coaching staff.

"I do expect some changes at the coordinator level in New England, and I believe there's a real chance Bill Belichick turns to a former assistant, such as Bill O'Brien, to run the offense," Graziano stated.

O'Brien was a member of Belichick's staff from 2007 to 2011, serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in his final year. He left to become the head coach at Penn State for two years before returning to the NFL in 2014 to coach the Houston Texans. After his firing in 2020, he replaced Steve Sarkisian as Alabama offensive coordinator and QBs coach under head coach Nick Saban prior to the 2021 season.

During his brief tenure with the Crimson Tide, O'Brien has overseen the development of star quarterback Bryce Young, who won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore and is now considered one of the top overall prospects in the 2023 NFL draft class.

The Patriots finished third in the AFC with an 8-9 record, and the team's offensive production raised some concerns. New England ranked 26th in the league with 314.6 yards per game and 17th with 21.4 points per game. Second-year quarterback Mac Jones showed signs of regression after a promising rookie season, leading many to wonder what went wrong.

Entering this season, Belichick added two former assistants who were unsuccessful as NFL head coaches back to his staff in Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. Patricia was eventually tabbed as the offensive play-caller, while Judge was in charge of the quarterbacks.

Since then, Belichick has faced criticism for his staffing decisions. However, Graziano noted that bringing in a more experienced offensive coordinator won't spell doom for Patricia and Judge.

"Even if that happens, my sense is Belichick would likely find other roles on the coaching staff for Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, who ran the offense this year. I'd be surprised if either of those guys was actually fired, as opposed to reassigned to different roles," Graziano stated.

Whatever the case may be, it's clear that improvements are needed if Belichick and the Patriots hope to return to glory in 2023.