Even before Josh McDaniels was officially out the door to Las Vegas, Bill O’Brien was floated as a logical replacement as the Patriots’ next offensive coordinator. That speculation only intensified once McDaniels was officially introduced by the Raiders.
Of course, O’Brien would have to leave his current job as the offensive coordinator at Alabama to come to New England. Asked about that possibility Wednesday night, Alabama head coach Nick Saban downplayed the rumors. However, Ian Rapoport reported Thursday morning that there is “mutual interest” between O’Brien and the Patriots, although the process may be a slow one.
Why is O’Brien getting so much focus? Well first, he’s been here before. He’s already been a play-caller and offensive coordinator in New England, taking over when McDaniels left the first time in 2009.
To that point, O’Brien has NFL play-calling experience as well. While an internal candidate would obviously be more familiar with the organization (O’Brien left New England in 2011 to become the head coach at Penn State), O’Brien has been in a quarterback’s headset for over a decade, both at the NFL and college level.
O’Brien’s college experience is another attractive trait. This past year at Alabama, the playbook included plenty of modern spread and RPO concepts similar to those that helped maximize Mac Jones’ skillset with the Tide in 2020. It stands to reason O’Brien would bring those elements with him to New England.