FOXBORO — For higher or worse, the Patriots are caught with Matt Patricia operating the offense the remainder of the season.
The excellent news?
They don’t need to be caught subsequent yr.
According to a number of studies, Bill O’Brien might be accessible. The former Texans head coach, who has been Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama the previous two years, is seeking to get again into the NFL. His contract with the Sugar Bowl-bound Crimson Tide is up, so he’ll as soon as once more be a horny rent within the NFL.
If O’Brien doesn’t safe a head teaching job, touchdown him ought to be the Patriots’ prime precedence.
They can’t let him slip by way of the cracks, particularly if he’s open to coming again, which seems to be the case.
They need to pounce the minute Alabama closes out its bowl sport. And disgrace on the Patriots if he winds up an offensive coordinator with one other NFL group.
Of course, the attraction for O’Brien, who was the Patriots’ offensive coordinator in 2012, could be returning to his roots. He’s a New Englander. He grew up in Andover and went to St. John’s Prep in Danvers earlier than attending Brown University in Providence.
He nonetheless has household right here. So that’s all working within the Patriots’ favor.
The Patriots, nevertheless, shouldn’t assume it’ll be a slam dunk in the event that they deem O’Brien to be their man. They must be proactive.
Well, as beautiful as it’d sound, there could be coordinator jobs on the market extra engaging to O’Brien that might trump going residence for a return engagement with the Patriots. This group doesn’t have the identical attraction it as soon as did. Let’s simply say it wouldn’t be probably the most coveted vacation spot for a coach in demand.
Plus, if O’Brien goes to take a job he as soon as held, he may wish to work with higher belongings on offense, and need some assurances of getting them.
That ought to be the case regardless of who turns into the offensive coordinator, or play-caller, if Belichick needs to proceed the ruse of not offering a title.
Between being saddled with coaches with no expertise calling offense, and having an meeting of excellent, however not nice weapons, it’s laborious to get a good evaluation of Mac Jones.
The Patriots want to offer Jones each alternative to succeed. Look at what the Dolphins did. They acquired Tua Tagovailoa an offensive head coach and play-caller, and outfitted him with elite weapons.
Look what the Bengals did for Joe Burrow. They acquired him a game-changer with Ja’Marr Chase. The Bills? They acquired Stefon Diggs for Josh Allen to assist push him and the Bills excessive. So whether or not it’s O’Brien, or another person, that must be a part of the equation.
And, if O’Brien is the goal, there may additionally be some dialogue about taking excessive job, each time Belichick decides to retire, and maybe he’ll need consideration towards that finish sport. Whatever may carry him again to New England, it’s one thing Robert Kraft and Belichick ought to strongly think about.
Bottom line: the Patriots can’t fiddle with this rent, or this example.
Jones, their 2021 first-round decide, a quarterback they’re presumably constructing their future round, has had a wasted yr so far. He’s gone backwards, and hasn’t proven an inkling of the promise displayed as a rookie.
Belichick can’t presumably suppose the reply is one other yr of Patricia, who had zero expertise calling offensive performs, and hasn’t been capable of be taught on the fly fast sufficient to be efficient within the position.
With the Patriots sitting at 6-6, simply out of the playoffs, it wouldn’t be the neatest factor for Belichick to make Patricia a lame duck at this level. That gained’t assist the trigger within the speedy.
But his non-answers in regards to the offense this week spoke volumes. He has to know he wasted a yr of Jones’ improvement.
More to the purpose, Belichick has to know he must make a change subsequent season. And if he doesn’t, Kraft must strongly counsel transferring on from Patricia because the play-caller. And Joe Judge because the quarterbacks coach.
O’Brien’s familiarity with Jones — the Patriots quarterback helped train O’Brien Alabama’s offense — and his familiarity with the group alongside along with his success as an offensive play caller makes him an excellent candidate.
Just having somebody who is aware of how you can name an offense, and alter to the protection, is a big step up from the present scenario.
And if O’Brien winds up scoring a head teaching job elsewhere, it nonetheless behooves the Patriots to search out the precise coach for the job.
If they wish to proceed honing a Shanahan-style offense, and outdoors zone operating scheme, they should rent somebody who’s truly coached it, understands it, and might train it.
Belichick can also now not have the play caller/coordinator even be answerable for the offensive line. Patricia mainly had no likelihood succeeding at both job.
O’Brien was the anticipated option to succeed Josh McDaniels, however Belichick’s loyalty to Saban prevented that. It was additionally advised Belichick didn’t wish to rent a coach with head teaching aspirations who could be on the transfer after a yr.
Continuity is necessary for a quarterback. But on this occasion, at what price?
Let’s simply say it might have been higher to have an excellent coach for a yr, and preserve Jones on the precise path, versus having him regress with coaches who by no means handled the offense, a lot much less a quarterback.
Belichick doesn’t have to fireplace Patricia, he can merely transfer him to a spot the place he’s higher certified. Keeping him within the play-caller position shouldn’t be an possibility.
We already understand how that story ends.