Patriots officially hire Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator

FOXBORO, Mass — There will be a new play-caller on the New England sideline in 2023.

The Patriots announced Thursday that they have hired Bill O’Brien as their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. O’Brien, an Andover native, previously spent five years as an offensive assistant coach in New England- a stretch that included four divisional titles and two Super Bowl appearances. The Patriots finished within the NFL’s top 10 in scoring offenses in all five of O’Brien’s seasons on the sideline.

“I am looking forward to working with Bill again,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. “He is an outstanding coach and an asset to our staff.”

The Patriots hope the reunion will bolster a New England offense that sputtered in 2022. After longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels leapt for the Las Vegas Raiders’ head coaching gig, the Patriots turned to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge to helm Mac Jones’ sophomore campaign. A season that began with Belichick stating Jones had made “dramatic improvement” ended with New England outside the playoff picture and in the bottom half of the league’s offensive point per game rankings.

A scathing report in the Boston Herald detailed a dramatic level of dysfunction within the Patriots’ offense last season. According to the report, Patricia struggled to integrate elements of a Mike Shanahan-style system into the offense. According to the Herald, players with experience in similar systems would often raise concerns about the gameplan that would go unanswered.

“A lot of guys would ask, ‘Well, what’s going to happen if (the defense) does this?’ And you would see they hadn’t really accounted for that yet,” one source told the Herald. “A lot of guys would ask, ‘Well, what’s going to happen if (the defense) does this?’ And you would see they hadn’t really accounted for that yet,” one source said. “And they’d say, ‘We’ll get to that when we get to that.’ That type of attitude got us in trouble.”

Quarterbacks coach Joe Judge was a similar source of frustration, according to the report. Although Jones was a central part of New England’s brain trust in the summer, sources told the Herald he was a source of frustration for both his head coach and quarterback. By the time Jones was sidelined with a high ankle sprain, players felt as if Judge had been pushed to the side.

“Mac didn’t like him,” one source said. “At all.”

“(Judge) would speak extra loudly in meetings, trying to project like he was the guy,” another source said. “And I think that kind of rubbed people the wrong way.”

O’Brien’s return to New England will also be a return to NFL coaching. O’Brien spent the past two years as the University of Alabama’s offensive coordinator after his seven-year tenure as head coach of the Houston Texans came to an end in 2020.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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