Bill Belichick has officially brought Bill O’Brien back to Foxborough to lead the Patriots’ struggling offense. O’Brien’s return is good news for Pats fans, primarily due to familiarity. He coached for the team during one of its most dominant offensive stretches, and he established a relationship with QB Mac Jones when he was preparing to enter the NFL Draft when O’Brien first arrived at Alabama.
Last year, Matt Patricia was primarily responsible for calling plays for the Patriots despite being a career long defensive minded coach. His inexperience calling plays on the offensive side of the ball was evident, as Jones, and the New England as a whole significantly regressed in 2022 from just one year prior. This past season, the Patriots’ offense was near the bottom of the league in terms of production. Additionally, Jones’ QBR, completion percentage, and pass attempts all dipped.
Let’s take a closer look at New England’s offensive ranks from last season compared to this season:
- Red zone efficiency: 11th (39 TDs in 63 trips) to 32nd (19 TDs in 45 trips)
- Third-down efficiency: 10th (43.5%) to 27th (34.8%)
- First downs: tied for ninth (362) to 28th (288)
- Sacks allowed: eighth (28 for 241 yards) to 19th (41 for 279 yards)
- Touchdowns scored: 48 to 31
*Statistical outline courtesy of ESPN
Bill O’Brien QB Track Record
O’Brien has now successfully coached a couple of big names at the QB position, including Tom Brady. Although Brady was already a made man before O’Brien’s first tenure with the team, Brady had two of his best statistical seasons while O’Brien was part of the offensive staff. O’Brien was the offensive assistant in 2007 when Brady threw 50 touchdowns, and the offensive coordinator in 2011 in Brady’s first 5,000-yard passing season.
He also coached Bryce Young to a Heisman Trophy in 2021. The then sophomore QB finished the season throwing for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. Although Young’s numbers dipped the next season, he is still considered one of, if not the best, QB in the draft this year – which O’Brien had a hand in.
O’Brien was also around for the best season of Deshaun Watson’s career so far. Watson posted 4,823 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions in O’Brien’s final year as the Texans head coach in 2020. Although the team record wasn’t the best, Watson’s success was among the best in the league that year.
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Reviving Mac Jones
The jury is still out on whether Jones is the answer at QB for the Patriots going forward. If anyone can help the franchise learn the answer, it’s O’Brien. Despite some play calling criticisms from former teams, including Alabama fans, O’Brien has put QBs under his tutelage in positions to succeed.
However, O’Brien is just the first of the Patriots’ needs on the offensive side of the ball. The team is in desperate need of help at the wide receiver and tight end positions. Current mock drafts have the Patriots filling that need in the first round this year, selecting either Quentin Johnson from TCU or Jordan Addison from USC. Either option should be well received by O’Brien and Jones.
Patriots fans have a lot to be excited about moving forward with O’Brien back in New England to lead the offense, and will have the answer to a lot of their questions about Jones and the offense soon.