On Tuesday January 24, 2023, after reaching an agreement, Bill O’Brien, 53, will come back to his NFL roots and join the New England Patriots as their new offensive coordinator, sources from On The Inside have reported. O’Brien originally began his coaching career with the Patriots back in 2007 and spent the past two years as offensive coordinator at Alabama under Nick Saban.
During his first go around in New England, O’Brien moved up quickly under Bill Belichick, starting out as quarterbacks coach and eventually earning the position of offensive coordinator during his three-year stay (2009-2011). After that, he accepted head coaching jobs at Penn State (2012-2013) and the Houston Texans (2014-2020).
O’Brien’s first order of business will be improving a Patriots offense that dropped notably in most of their key areas in 2022, including:
• Red zone efficiency: 11th (39 TDs in 63 trips) to 32nd (19 TDs in 45 trips)
• Third-down efficiency: 10th (43.5%) to 27th (34.8%)
• First downs: tied for ninth (362) to 28th (288)
• Sacks allowed: eighth (28 for 241 yards) to 19th (41 for 279 yards)
• Touchdowns scored: 48 to 31
For the 2022 season, Belichick elected not to designate an official Offensive Coordinator for the Patriots, instead allowing Matt Patricia to take the lead in terms of playcalling. Despite not having extensive experience in that role, Patricia nevertheless was tasked with overseeing a reorganization of the offense, the purpose of which was to facilitate the development of more long-distance, explosive plays.
Despite their anticipation of a positive outcome, the desired results never materialized which prompted the usually reserved New England Patriots to broadcast on January 12, 2023 they were seeking applicants for the offensive coordinator role. After arriving in Alabama, O’Brien formed a strong connection with then-Crimson Tide QB Mac Jones, who eventually joined the New England Patriots. Clearly, O’Brien’s relationship with Jones’s proves to be a perfect fit for the Patriots moving forward.
O’Brien’s return to the NFL leaves Saban in search of a sixth offensive coordinator in the past 8 years; the last 5 – Sarkisian, Locksley, Daboll, Kiffin, and O’Brien – all now head coaching, offensive coordinator, or Power 5 head coaching roles. Before O’Brien’s departure, Saban was already in search of a new defensive coordinator after Pete Golding left for the same position at Ole Miss. It will be Saban’s first time having to recruit two new coordinators in one year since after winning the 2017 national championship.