Bill O’Brien takes responsibility for Patriots’ offensive struggles
With the New England Patriots sitting at 2-9 with the 31st ranked offense in the NFL, much of the discourse around the team has turned to assigning blame and finger-pointing. Who is most at fault for the team being in the position that it’s in?
First-year offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has been a central part of many of those discussions. During his press conference on Tuesday, O’Brien held himself accountable for some of the team’s issues, specifically at the quarterback position (O’Brien is the quarterbacks coach as well as the offensive coordinator).
Asked about Mac Jones’ confidence level at this point, O’Brien put the attention on himself. “Things haven’t gone great for him this year. I don’t think that he’s the number one guy to blame. If you want to blame anybody, blame me,” O’Brien said. “I’m the one that designs [the offense] and it’s not going very well.”
“At the end of the day, can he execute better? Are there things that he can do better? Sure,” O’Brien continued. “But there’s things that all of us have to do better to put a put a winning product on the field. And right now, that’s not what it is.”
The Patriots hired O’Brien this past winter, after having Matt Patricia serve as the offensive play-caller in 2022, replacing Josh McDaniels. Under Patricia the Patriots’ offense finished averaging 18.1 points per game (the team averaged 21.4 points per game, thanks to a league-leading eight defensive/special teams touchdowns). So far this season the offense is averaging 13.5 points per game.
O’Brien also defended head coach Bill Belichick, when asked what it’s been like to hear speculation about his job security and status.
“This is Bill Belichick we’re talking about. Bill Belichick has done so much for the game of football, the New England Patriots organization. It’s football,” O’Brien responded. “To think about what he’s done here in this organization, what he’s done for this community, what he’s done for this game – for the game, the game of football. He’s been 50 years in the game of football.”
“Just to me, I think everybody just needs to understand – look, we’ve all got to win. We understand we’re in a winning business. We’re not winning right now,” O’Brien continued. “But, I think you’ve also got to step back and – hey, look what this guy’s done for the game of football. I think that’s very important to think about.”
O’Brien did also reiterate a point he made last week, when it comes to how Belichick factors into the team’s starting quarterback decisions. With another week ahead of Jones and Bailey Zappe battling for the starting job in practice, O’Brien reminded reporters that “there’s a chain of command” when it comes to those kinds of decisions, with owner Robert Kraft, at the top, followed by Belichick, and then assistant coaches making recommendations. As he did last week, O’Brien chose to keep his recommendation about the quarterback position private out of respect for those involved.