Bill O'Brien Named Bill Belichick, Patriots' OC; Coached Mac Jones at Alabama

Adam Wells

ATLANTA, GA  DECEMBER 04:  Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien prior to the start of the SEC Championship college football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs on December 4th, 2021 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.  (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bill O'Brien is on his way back to the New England Patriots as the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the team announced Thursday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Low first reported Tuesday that the Patriots were going to hire O'Brien as their offensive coordinator after he spent the previous two seasons at the University of Alabama.

O'Brien had long been considered the favorite to become New England's offensive coordinator.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport called O'Brien a "top candidate" after he interviewed for the job on Jan. 19. He has a previous relationship with head coach Bill Belichick after working for the Patriots from 2007 to '11.

O'Brien served as offensive coordinator on Belichick's staff in his final season before leaving to become Penn State's head coach. New England's offense ranked second in yards and third in points scored.

The Patriots offense was a mess last season with Matt Patricia steering the ship. The 48-year-old was their play-caller, even though his official title was senior football adviser and offensive line coach.

There were moments during the season when Mac Jones seemed frustrated with Patricia, the team's former defensive coordinator, and the play-calling in games.

Jones, who finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2021, took a huge step back this season. He threw for 2,997 yards with 14 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 65.2 completion percentage in 14 starts.

Out of 31 qualified starters this season, Jones' 36.2 QBR ranked 28th. He was ahead of only Davis Mills, Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield.

O'Brien and Jones briefly overlapped at Alabama. O'Brien was hired as offensive coordinator in January 2021, three months before Jones was drafted with the No. 15 overall pick by the Patriots.

NFL Network's Mike Giardi noted Jones helped teach O'Brien about the Crimson Tide's system leading up to the draft.

A source told Mark Daniels of MassLive that Jones is "very" excited to be reunited with O'Brien.

Alabama's offense finished in the top six nationally in points scored in each of its two seasons with O'Brien as offensive coordinator. The Patriots have ranked outside the top 10 in scoring offense in two of the previous three seasons since Tom Brady left to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.