‘Mutual Interest’ Between Patriots and Former OC to Replace Josh McDaniels

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The New England Patriots must replace Josh McDaniels and the might be looking at a blast from the past to fill his shoes. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport in an appearance on WEEI’s Gresh and Keefe, there is interest between former Patriots offensive coordinator, former Houston Texans head coach and current Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.


Looking to the Past to Move Ahead

Bill Belichick has never hesitated to bring back old members of his staff. In fact, McDaniels was on his second stint with the organization after flaming out as a head coach of the Denver Broncos and a short run as the offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams. Belichick brought Matt Patricia back as a special advisor ahead of the 2021 season after he was fired as the head coach of the Detroit Lions.

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If O’Brien does return, he would be the next man in charge of developing Mac Jones who had a successful rookie campaign under McDaniels’ tutelage. You’d think the Patriots might want to get the next voice Jones will hear connected with the quarterback as soon as possible, but if New England is going to hire O’Brien, it could be a long wait.

“As far as Bill O’Brien, the NFL’s process is slow,” Rapoport explained. “Everyone wants answers now, but the reality is the process is slow. So in order for the Patriots to hire Bill O’Brien — and I do believe there’s interest. I think there’s interest from them, and I think there’s interest from him, and a lot of times when that’s the case, these things end up working out.”

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Patriots Must Check Every Box

The Patriots and Bill Belichick must observe the Rooney Rule which mandates the organization interviews a minority candidate. Belichick’s text messages to former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores are already at the center of a potential scandal. You best believe New England will follow every rule with the NFL’s hiring process.

“They have to interview multiple candidates,” Rapoport confirms. “They have to interview candidates who are minorities. They have to go through all that. So we are not there yet, and I would say typically, the Patriots work very, very slow on staffing. Like, I can remember many times they would go to the combine (in early March) and not be set on staffing. So I’m not sure that will happen imminently, but I do believe there’s mutual interest. And honestly, it just makes a lot of sense for all parties.”

O’Brien has likely wanted to return to the NFL since he was fired by the Texans in 2020. After spending last season as Bama’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, O’Brien could potentially finish rebuilding his standing in hopes of landing another head-coaching job.

As the head man for the Texans, O’Brien posted a 52-48 record over 6.25 seasons on the sidelines. O’Brien’s teams in Houston made the postseason four times, winning the AFC South each time.

With Alabama in 2021, O’Brien helped run an offense that saw quarterback Bryce Lewis win the Heisman Trophy while averaging 304.1 yards per game. However, O’Brien’s offense was stymied by the Georgia Bulldogs’ speedy, swarming defense in the National Championship. Still, O’Brien seemed to add to his status-rebuilding-efforts with his potentially short stay in Tuscaloosa.

Having worked under Nick Saban at Jones’ alma mater, there would appear to be a natural fit. When you consider O’Brien spent five seasons working for Belichick and the Patriots as an offensive assistant, wide receivers coach, quarterback coach and offensive coordinator, there is even more reason to believe he is the right guy to replace McDaniels.

The Patriots might also want to gain O’Brien’s knowledge on Alabama players and other SEC prospects ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. In any case, getting O’Brien officially into the fold should be a priority for the Patriots and even the coach himself.

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