Over the last few years, the Patriots coaching staff has seen a lot of changes, most of which stemmed from Josh McDaniels’ hiring to become the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Upon his departure, the former longtime offensive coordinator poached several people from the Patriots organization to join his team out west, thus thrusting Bill Belichick into a hiring spree over the offseason.
We know how the 2022 season went with a few of those new hires, and because a few went so poorly, New England found themselves in another dire situation to fill massive gaps within the staff, including the offensive play-caller for the second year in a row.
The addition of Bill O’Brien is as significant of an upgrade as it gets, considering the vast knowledge he possesses when working with an offense compared to Matt Patricia. And with him joining the staff this season, a new playbook is bound to debut, becoming the third offensive scheme in three years for Mac Jones to learn since being drafted in 2021.
But what will an O’Brien offense look like in 2023?
Will he implement most of what we’ve seen from him during his previous Patriots’ tenure? Or will he add a more college football flair as he returns to the NFL from coaching at the University of Alabama?
According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the expectation is it will be a hybrid of things, mainly due to the familiarity between O’Brien and Mac Jones via the Alabama connection.
"“I think it’s going to be a hybrid of a lot of different things. I think it’s going to have some stuff that they did at Alabama that Mac is going to be comfortable with because Mac was at Alabama. … [O’Brien] coached Deshaun Watson in Houston, he coached Bryce Young the last couple years at Alabama, so he’s got a lot of different ideas.I think he’s got really great perspective because he does have the bones of the Patriots offense, but he’s gonna be able to do some things that I think are on the cutting edge of where the sport is going.”"
Because Jones thrived during his rookie season working with McDaniels and the typical Patriots’ offense, implementing that along with what he was most successful with in college seems like the best-case scenario for the offense moving forward.
It was clear the attempt by Patricia to create a successful offense was a failure, not only because it didn’t help them win games but because Jones appeared to take a giant step backward in his performance during a season he was primed to have a second-year jump.
Plus, several other offensive players didn’t perform nearly as well as they had previously, creating a completely jumbled mess for all to overcome.
Although O’Brien and Jones didn’t work side by side before the quarterback went to the NFL, he did reportedly help acclimate the offensive coordinator with the Alabama offense as he was set to become the play-caller.
Having an established familiarity and working relationship before any offseason program starts is a much better situation than at this point last season and should hopefully continue throughout the summer, setting up for a much-needed bounce-back season in September.