The Patriots have a long list of changes needed this offseason, but none seems more important than addressing the offensive coordinator/play-calling disaster. It has been said for weeks that Robert Kraft will have a say in moves that will occur, particularly in Bill Belichick’s presumed search for a new signal caller. Because of his personnel decisions implemented this season, the offense could never get on the same page, resulting in a failed season by Patriots standards.
Since Josh McDaniels left earlier this year, Bill O’Brien’s name has floated as his potential replacement. Since the 2021 season, the former offensive coordinator has worked with Nick Saban at the University of Alabama. Although he appeared as the frontrunner to return to the Patriots, it was reported that O’Brien committed to remaining at the university throughout his two-year contract, making him available to rejoin the NFL this offseason.
He remains the favorite to take over play-calling as the season nears its end, mainly because of the connection formed with Mac Jones before the 2021 draft. Before departing the school for the NFL, Jones spent time with O’Brien to teach him the Alabama football playbook. Given how successful the quarterback was within the offense that O’Brien used that season, having the pair work together professionally has made the most sense.
But in a new report from The Athletic, reporter Mike Sando claims new names are beginning to gain traction over the last few weeks; Chad O’Shea and Adam Gase.
If Belichick is hellbent on having more former staff rejoin the team, O’Shea’s return would be the least surprising. He joined the Patriots in 2009 as the wide receivers coach and remained in that position until leaving to join Brian Flores with the Dolphins as the OC in 2019. He spent one season as the play-caller, and due to rumored issues with players understanding the playbook, O’Shea was let go. He has since become the Browns’ wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.
Since Jones succeeded in the McDaniels system during his rookie season, and the offense performed much better as well, Belichick may like the idea of O’Shea bringing that playbook back. If O’Brien somehow becomes unavailable, he appears as the most Belichick-ian candidate to be hired.
Another name that has been involved in conversations in the past but has picked up once again lately is Adam Gase. Although he has not worked in the NFL since he was let go from his head coach position of the New York Jets in 2020, he was known for his extensive work with offenses during his career. Gase was a successful offensive coordinator for the Broncos and Bears from 2013 to 2015 but could not maintain that success once he transitioned to head coaching.
Because Belichick has a pattern of hiring those he has worked with in the past or has familiarity with and respect for, Gase making his way to New England is a strong possibility. But it will inevitably come down to what type of offense he wants to implement going forward; ditch the McDaniels-like playbook and try something new? Or re-hire someone with a similar style as the former offensive coordinator?
No matter what it is, it will be a big decision that desperately needs to be made.