(Photo courtesy of Patriots.com) “Bill O’Brien coaching on the Patriots staff over a decade ago.”
All season long, Patriots fans everywhere were subjected to pure incompetence in terms of offensive play-calling from two washed-up coaches: Matt Patricia and wannabe middle school gym teacher Joe Judge. After a disappointing season in which the Patriots finished 8-9 and narrowly missed the playoffs, head coach Bill Belichick finally decided enough was enough and promptly shot them both out of a cannon. But who would be taking their place? An old friend from 10+ years ago, who just underwent over two seasons as offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama, Bill O’Brien. Oh, great.
For context, Bill O’Brien was with the New England Patriots in a different array of positions from 2007-2011, starting off as an offensive assistant when he joined the team in 2007. He rose the ranks within the organization, becoming a wide receiver coach in 2008, then quarterback coach from 2009-2011, then gaining the offensive coordinator title for only 1 season in 2011. After that, he was offered a head coaching job in the NCAA for Penn State and left the Patriots to pursue that opportunity.
After his stint in the NCAA from 2012-2013, O’Brien returned to the NFL with the abomination of a franchise in the Houston Texans, going for a regular season record total of 52-48 and a playoff record of 2-4. In 2020, he would be fired as both the head coach and the general manager of the team. Seriously, who thought putting him in charge of a team like that was a good idea? After that disaster of a tenure to end his time in the NFL once again, he returned to the NCAA, becoming the offensive coordinator for head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, where he began working with current Patriots quarterback Mac Jones.
From there, O’Brien helped Alabama win a national championship in 2020, then fell to Georgia in the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship Game the next year. Then, this past season, the Crimson Tide did not even make the CFP, after suffering losses to both Tennessee and Louisiana State. So, the natural decision after going in the general direction of a downhill slope in College Football is… to return to the NFL. And for the team he was once with.
There has been a mixed reaction to the news of O’Brien’s return to New England. Some fans are excited at this announcement, citing how good of a coordinator he is, while others were less enthusiastic, saying how the way his tenure ended in Houston left a sour taste in their mouths. This may also confirm the Patriots will not be in the trade market for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, as he was traded by Bill O’Brien to the Arizona Cardinals for a few bags of chips and a free $10 bet from DraftKings, which translates to a washed-up running back in David Johnson and a 4th round pick.
The overall hiring of Bill O’Brien as the new Patriots offensive coordinator has yet to be judged on its success as the off-season has just begun for the team. One thing is for sure, it is a lot better than having Matt Patricia and Joe Judge as coordinators, especially after their struggles this past season.