FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bill O’Brien will return to the Patriots after agreeing to a contract Tuesday to become New England’s next offensive coordinator, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Low.
O’Brien, 53, who spent the last two years as offensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama, is now back where his NFL career began in 2007 as an assistant coach.
In his first position in New England, O’Brien quickly rose through Bill Belichick’s management team to quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, spending three years (2009-11) in that position before leaving to coach at Penn State (2012-13). and with the Houston Texans (2014-2020).
A native of Massachusetts, O’Brien will be charged with fixing a Patriots offense that has settled in several areas in 2022, including:
• Zone efficiency: 11th (39 TDs in 63 passes) to 32nd (19 TDs in 45 passes)
• Third down: 10th (43.5%) to 27th (34.8%)
• First down: Tied-9th (362) to 28th (288)
• Catches: 8 (28 for 241 yards) to 19 (41 for 279 yards)
• Touchdowns scored: 48 to 31
Belichick didn’t name the Patriots’ starting quarterback in 2022, leaning toward Matt Patricia as the starting quarterback even though Patricia was an NFL starter on the defensive end.
Belichick also oversaw the improvement of the offense — changing the defensive tone of the offensive linemen — in which one of his goals was to make big plays down the field.
But the desired result was not achieved, which leads the Patriots, who are very well known about their intentions, to announce publicly on Jan. 12 to consult with the offensive coordinator.
The Patriots spoke with O’Brien, current New England coach Nick Caley, Minnesota Vikings receivers coach Keenan McCardell, Arizona Cardinals assistant coach Shawn Jefferson and Oregon assistant coach/offensive coordinator Adrian Klemm.
After arriving at Alabama, where he worked with cornerback Bryce Young, O’Brien spent a lot of time with Patriots quarterback Mac Jones — a Crimson Tide alum — considering the team’s offense.
With O’Brien returning to the NFL, Saban will be looking for his sixth different coordinator in the last eight seasons. The previous five – Steve Sarkisian, Mike Locksley, Brian Daboll, Lane Kiffin and O’Brien – are all now NFL head coaches/offensive managers or Power 5 head coaches.
Saban is also looking for a defensive coordinator after Pete Golding left Ole Miss earlier this month. The last time Saban brought in two coordinators in the same year was after the Crimson Tide’s 2017 national championship run.