Reports surfaced on Thursday that Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien’s name has been thrown around as a possible head coaching candidate for next season. The NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora had this to say on the subject:
"Working in O’Brien’s favor is the fact his contract is set to expire. He loves working with Brady and coach Bill Belichick, according to sources, and making a lateral move isn’t very likely, as the Patriots want to keep him. However, it’s very difficult to secure top coordinators in the NFL — teams routinely block permission for assistants to interview for lateral moves — and O’Brien’s contract status makes him, in essence, a free agent."
The Chiefs have reportedly shown interest according to La Canfora, and even the Penn State job has been thrown out there.
The Penn State job may be a long-shot, but the Chiefs could be a more realistic fit. Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli was with the Patriots in 2007 when O’Brien first came along as a wide receivers coach. Also, O’Brien worked with Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell in his time in New England. If there is any head coaching vacancy in the league that is best suited for O’Brien the Chiefs job would most likely be at the top of the list.
There have been a number of coaches who have worked under Bill Belichick and have gone on to be head coaches including most recently Josh McDaniels and Eric Mangini. Both of whom have not exactly been very successful, but it shows Belichick’s assistants quickly get head coaching jobs.
McDaniels was the offensive coordinator of the Patriots for two seasons before taking the Broncos head coaching job in 2009. This is O’Brien’s first official season as offensive coordinator, but last season he was the offensive coordinator, just without the title.
The difference between the two is that McDaniels was with the Patriots for seven seasons before moving onto Denver. He was a personnel assistant for a year, defensive assistant for two years, quarterbacks coach for two and the offensive coordinator for another two. He also was quarterbacks coach when Charlie Weis was the offensive coordinator and worked under him. O’Brien has only been with the Patriots for five seasons. One as an offensive assistant, one as wide receivers coach, two as quarterbacks coach and is in his first as offensive coordinator.
Before coming to the Patriots O’Brien coached 13 seasons in college, which gives him more experience than McDaniels, but McDaniels had more professionally. Clearly, O’Brien won’t back down to anyone as was shown a few weeks ago when he and Tom Brady got into it on the sidelines, but is he ready and does he have the experience to be a head coach in the NFL?