Among the many revelations published in the Boston Herald's exposé was a behind-the-scenes look at the power dynamic from Bill Belichick down the totem pole. It's been known for years that the head coach and general manager held most of the say-so in New England, from signings and releases to personnel and game-day decisions.
But one part of the Herald's piece stood out above the rest.
It had been rumored that before Matt Patricia was named the offensive coordinator for the 2022 season, O'Brien had been the desired man for the job. But due to his commitment to Alabama, keeping him at the university for one more season, Belichick chose to give Patricia a shot.
It seemed plausible at the time, despite the unanimous confusion about the move from nearly everyone in New England. But that seems not to be the case anymore, as Andrew Callahan and Doug Kyed wrote Belichick wanted to keep the former defensive coordinator as the play-caller for the 2023 season.
If that is the truth, then the part about O'Brien accurately portrays what led up to the start of the year.
Callahan and Kyed suggest sources told them that O'Brien wanted to hire his own staff upon rehiring in New England. However, Belichick denied him that right and only allowed him to hire one person of his liking, which is odd if the intention of bringing him back was to improve the offense dramatically.
"According to league sources, some assistants came to believe O’Brien wanted to clean house and build his own offensive staff upon arriving in January, but Belichick denied him. Belichick allowed one hire, [Will] Lawing, who replaced ex-tight ends coach Nick Caley. To onlookers, a clear hierarchy developed with O’Brien and his assistants: there was Lawing and assistant quarterbacks coach Evan Rothstein, then everyone else.”
It's hard to understand why Belichick would be against the idea of bringing in more people that O'Brien wanted to complete his staff. If he was brought in to reinvigorate a stale offense, why would he be denied to fill out the offensive personnel with people he saw fit for the job?
Clearly, something hasn't been working on offense for the last handful of years. It was a problem even in Tom Brady's final season. So it's a bit perplexing that Belichick would outright deny him formulating a staff of his own if it meant the offense would improve.