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Patriots Rumors: Bill O'Brien 'Primary Target' for OC Role on Bill Belichick's Staff

Doric SamJanuary 16, 2023

Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien talks with a bystander before an NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

The New England Patriots are seeking the services of an offensive coordinator this offseason, and they reportedly already have a top candidate in mind.

According to Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports, Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is New England's "primary target." O'Brien is a former head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions and Houston Texans, and a former disciple of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick after working on New England's staff from 2007 to 2011.

O'Brien had risen to offensive coordinator before his departure from New England over a decade ago. His prior experience with the Patriots should be enough to facilitate his return to Foxborough.

"There is unanimity on all sides that O'Brien's the best person for the job and—while there are other candidates with merit—the familiarity ownership and Mac Jones have with O'Brien and O'Brien's willingness to return mean it would be an upset if he doesn't get the job," Curran wrote.

A return by O'Brien would mean the end of the failed experiment from this season that saw Joe Judge and Matt Patricia share responsibilities in leading the Patriots offense. Belichick was criticized after the season for his staffing decisions, as New England failed to make the playoffs and Jones appeared to regress in his second year.

The futures of Judge and Patricia would be unclear with O'Brien's arrival. As Curran pondered, "Are they still part of the offensive coaching staff? How will they jell with O'Brien if they aren't reassigned to new roles? O'Brien coached alongside Patricia in his time here. He surely has some relationship with Judge. No doubt there's some friendship, so it will need to be diplomatically addressed so there's no hard feelings."

O'Brien has been successful in his brief time at Alabama. After joining Nick Saban's staff in 2021, he presided over an offensive system that helped star quarterback Bryce Young win the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore. Young is now one of the top prospects in the 2023 NFL draft class.