DO YOUR JOB
An Account of the 2022 New England Patriots Season
The former Pats offensive coordinator is back in the same post after stints with the Houston Texans and Alabama. PIC: David Silverman
Let's be clear - this was a frustrating year in Foxboro. From the rare lack of special teams success, to inconsistent defensive stretches, to making headlines as potentially the "worst ending to a game in NFL history," there's no secret that fans wanted change heading into the 2023 offseason.
There was generally one high-priority item across all Patriots fans list: a true offensive play caller. According to Adam Schefter, they have their man - and he's a familiar face.
Bill O'Brien is reportedly accepting the Patriots' offer to return as the offensive coordinator in New England next year. He was atop the Pats' list of candidates throughout the entire process; WR coaches Shawn Jefferson (Arizona Cardinals) and Keenan McCardell (Minnesota Vikings) were interviewed, as well as Dan Lanning's number one assistant at Oregon, Adrian Klemm. But, as many prophesied, O'Brien emerged as the clear-cut top candidate. This past year, the Pats had their worst offensive output since Bill Belichick has been coaching; it was clear the offense had systemic issues for one of the only seasons of BB's career. When Josh McDaniels became the head coach of the Raiders prior to this season, Belichick entrusted his former DEFENSIVE coordinator, Matt Patricia - as well as former Pats special teams coach & NY Giants HC Joe Judge - with the keys to his offense. It's clear that's a strategy they will no longer employ.
Instead, it's a man that devised the offensive shots for five seasons, some of which he was the Offensive Coordinator. Four of those seasons resulted in playoff appearances, two of which the Pats made it all the way to the Super Bowl. O'Brien, from past reports, was a key cog in the machine that helped Tom Brady win the both NFL MVP & Offensive Player of the Year twice, two NFL-leading passing touchdown seasons, a Comeback Player of the Year award after he missed the 2008 season with a torn ACL & MCL. Sure, they had Randy Moss & Wes Welker as top offensive weapons, but some look at this period as the time the Patriots' offense was at its best.
PIC: Getty Images
O'Brien re-enters the organization at a crucial time in which offensive structure is desperately needed. A third-year quarterback in Mac Jones will be reliant on a better passing scheme. Jones is comfortable with O'Brien, having allegedly been a key factor in helping O'Brien learn the Alabama Crimson Tide offensive playbook when he was hired as Nick Saban's offensive coordinator in 2021.
Now, O'Brien - in a way - will have to play the role that Jones once played for him. It's a unique opportunity for O'Brien to essentially build the playbook from the ground up. Will it be an opportunity for him to return to the "Erhardt-Perkins" offensive scheme (leveraging play-action and comfortability with deep passing) that Charlie Weis made famous in the same post? Can Mac Jones even hold his own in a style like this?
One thing is for sure: this is a pivotal year for both Bill O'Brien and Mac Jones. 2023 will have long-term implications on the New England Patriots.