Bill O’Brien simply dropped his luggage contained in the entrance door.
Mac Jones is already upstairs unpacking his suitcase.
The Patriots’ large receivers are actively planning the subsequent trip within the driveway, whereas the offensive linemen are final out of the automobile, nonetheless recovering from a trip-long hangover.
For all concerned, the honeymoon is over.
On Sunday, the Patriots offense might be examined in a manner it hasn’t since O’Brien re-tied the knot in late January. It’s been a stunning seven-plus months.
From the second O’Brien stepped into the constructing, life has been a collection of bouquets and blowing kisses.
“(O’Brien)’s awesome,” Pats tight finish Mike Gesicki mentioned Wednesday. “He’s been great since the day he got here.”
“I’ve been very happy with coach O’Brien,” Mac Jones mentioned throughout coaching camp. “All of us have.”
As far as teaching adjustments, O’Brien represents one of many healthiest rebounds in latest NFL historical past. Once the Patriots moved on from the poisonous Belichick-Patricia-Judge triumvirate of final yr, all O’Brien needed to do to attain factors was maintain the door, say please and thanks and bear in mind birthdays. He’s completed greater than that.
From crew conferences to the apply subject, O’Brien has breathed life into the Patriots offense once more. There is a pleasure about his gamers, belief and perception; hallmarks of any wholesome relationships which, by the best way, had been all lacking final season.
“The coaches bring a lot of confidence in us,” tight finish Hunter Henry mentioned. “They do an amazing job of lifting us up.
But the factor is, for as great as all that sounds, none of it issues.
O’Brien was re-hired to win video games, not a recognition contest. The stress exams his offense endured in coaching camp and the preseason don’t examine by any means to the regular-season rigors to come back. What an NFL offense is, what it might probably turn into, is simply recognized by strolling via the fires of conniving defensive coordinators, head-hunting safeties and menacing move rushers for 17 video games.
What we all know in regards to the Patriots offense is the gamers imagine of their new coach, each other and the system that binds all of them collectively. That’s about it.
What we’ll start to be taught Sunday in opposition to the Eagles is strictly what they’ll be taught: whether or not that perception is deserved.
After the debacle of final yr, followers need to know. Players need to know. Too many fell sufferer to the false hope that papered over the structural flaws of the 2022 offense, one finest described as useless on arrival.
Because imagine it or not, a yr in the past, between Jones’ outbursts and the blown blocks and normal distress, coaches and gamers insisted they may see development. They had been improper. Everyone was.
So what’s going to development, actual development, seem like this yr?
Start with O’Brien’s sport plan.
The Patriots’ lack of ability to scheme up their opponents final yr was painfully evident. They ranked third-worst in first-quarter scoring at 2.7 factors per sport. They didn’t rating a landing within the first quarter till Thanksgiving.
Per week later, God bless him, Kendrick Bourne lastly mentioned the quiet half out loud after a horrible loss to Buffalo: “They call this, and we call that, and it falls right into what they want.”
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So if the Pats cruise to an opening-drive landing versus Philadelphia, that is greater than encouraging. That’s a breakthrough, and laborious proof O’Brien is the coach his gamers proclaim him to be.
But to illustrate they go scoreless. Fine. Then, we will study O’Brien’s problem-solving. That’s much more crucial.
Because season openers introduce extra uncertainty than some other sport all yr. It’s an entire unknown how the Eagles will assault and alter, notably with a brand new defensive coordinator in Sean Desai. What will O’Brien do to stave off a line of defense that racked up 70 sacks a yr in the past and a secondary that got here one holding name away from probably successful the Super Bowl?
And if that fails, what might be Plans B and C?
On Thursday, Patriots security Jalen Mills famous any time his protection flummoxed Jones and Co. in apply, O’Brien threw wrinkles at them the subsequent day to supply an edge. Mills additionally added Jones’ rising expertise and continuity together with his teammates ought to assist the teaching employees and gamers come collectively.
“When you come to the sideline, the good thing about having veteran guys is you can talk through things,” Mills mentioned. “Whether it’s a different coverage they’ve seen or a play they think they can run, I think that’s the biggest thing.”
So when O’Brien is underneath stress, will he lean on his quarterback and veterans for solutions in the identical collaborative manner many have described so far?
And if the worst-case situation arrives, and the Patriots lose a blowout, indicators of life would possibly nonetheless be unearthed in his course of and play-calling. Or, they may not.
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How many new run-pass choices (RPOs) did O’Brien name, to play to Jones’ energy and take stress off his offensive line? Was JuJu Smith-Schuster featured on the run-after-catch performs he signed to execute? Did Gesicki, an outsized receiver masquerading as a decent finish, play in-line or was he cut up out large?
O’Brien’s gamers say to date he is put them in place to succeed. They exude confidence, the lifeblood of any high-level offense.
When requested if he thought his offense would enhance, Pats heart David Andrews mixed amusing and a scoff Wednesday earlier than providing one phrase.
“Yeah,” he mentioned.
Andrews might be proper. But to what diploma?
That reply will set the course for the Patriots’ opener and their season.
It’s time to unpack. The honeymoon is over. Now, the laborious work begins.