2 Former Patriots QB Getting Head-Coaching Interview With Broncos

Getty Kevin O'Connell

Besides the start of the NFL Playoffs on Saturday January 15, the biggest topics of conversations around football is the request to interview head-coaching and general manager opportunities.

One name on the long list of candidates is former New England Patriots quarterback and current Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. The Denver Broncos, who fired Vic Fangio as their head coach on Sunday, have asked the Rams for permission to interview O’Donnell.

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O’Connell was a backup to Tom Brady in 2008, the year the Patriots drafted him in the third round. That’s also the year Brady suffered a torn ACL in a Week 1 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Matt Cassell took over for Brady leading the team to 10-5 finish to the season.

O’Connell served as Cassell’s backup the rest of the season, throwing 6 passes, completing 4 of them for 23 yards. O’Connell was waived by the Patriots the following year during preseason and he bounced around on several teams’ practice squad until he retired after the 2012 season.

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O’Connell began his coaching career in 2015 as the quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns. He’s also worked with the San Francisco 49ers, Washington Football Team and now the Rams as their offensive coordinator since 2020.

At 36, O’Connell is one of the younger candidates for head-coaching positions, but he’s nearly a year older than the Patriots’ own in-house candidate Jerod Mayo, who won’t be 36 until February 25. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Broncos have also requested permission to interview Mayo for the head coaching position.

Kevin O’Connell’s Offensive Success

The Rams rank in the top 5 in the NFL in passing yards and 2nd in TDs. They are seventh in scoring behind a pass-heavy attack that helped Cooper Kupp have a historic season. The Rams traded for Matthew Stafford in the offseason, and the change at quarterback ignited the attack and may have placed O’Connell on track to elevate himself as a head-coaching candidate.

In 2020, O’Connell’s offense wasn’t as potent with Jared Goff at the helm. The same can be said for the Washington Football Team’s attack in 2019 when O’Connell was the offensive coordinator for that squad.

WFT was 32nd in the NFL in points scored and 31st in total yards. Granted, WFT’s quarterback was a mess with starts being split between Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins and Colt McCoy, still O’Connell doesn’t have a history of developing players at the position.

If given a strong quarterback, O’Connell has a one-year sample size of orchestrating a successful offense. The Broncos and other potential suitors may ultimately decide they need to see more from O’Connell before taking the plunge and hiring him to run their team.

Are Mayo’s Chances Being Hurt By the Patriots Playing in the Postseason?

What about Mayo? Will he get an opportunity to become a head coach this offseason? He may have a better shot than O’Connell, but his availability to interview may be hindered by the fact that the Patriots have a playoff game to prepare for on Saturday, January 15.

Mayo’s role with the Patriots may be a little muddied considering the team doesn’t have a designated defensive coordinator, but the early interview request is a good sign for him considering he also had a strong interview with the Philadelphia Eagles last offseason.

We’ll see if either O’Connell or Mayo get the nod.


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