Bill O’Brien A Good Josh McDaniels Replacement For New England Patriots

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The New England Patriots might need a new offensive coordinator. Josh McDaniels is scheduled to interview for the Las Vegas Raiders head coaching position, and most beat reporters believe that New England’s longtime play-caller has a good shot of getting the job. If that happens, the Patriots could hire old friend Bill O’Brien to serve as offensive coordinator. 

O’Brien currently has a bad reputation based on his tenure with the Houston Texans. While he may be the worst general manager to ever walk the Earth, he is actually a solid offensive mind that can help develop Mac Jones while also possibly getting the best out of New England’s high-paid tight end duo. 

Bill O’Brien A Perfect Choice For New England Patriots If Josh McDaniels Leaves

Closest Thing to Continuity

The quarterback is the most important position in football, so developing Mac Jones should be New England’s top priority. The former first-round pick had a strong rookie year, leading all rookie quarterbacks in just about every statistic by a wide margin. In a perfect world, McDaniels will stick around so Jones doesn’t have to learn a brand new offense. However, if McDaniels leaves, it’s in New England’s best interest to bring in a guy that can call a similar offense. 

With O’Brien, you have a guy with a proven track record of doing just that. The longtime coach served as New England’s de-facto offensive coordinator in 2010 before officially earning the title in 2011. Those two seasons produced some of the best offenses of the Belichick Era, as former quarterback Tom Brady earned unanimous MVP honors in 2010 and put up one of the highest scoring offenses of all time in 2011. 

Obviously, Mac Jones is not as good as peak Tom Brady and won’t replicate those results. However, those two years showed us that O’Brien knows how to make this scheme successful, and should be the closest thing possible to a seamless transition. For a second-year quarterback, you really can’t ask for anything else. 

More Than A Product of Tom Brady

Of course, it’s not that hard to look good when Tom Brady is your quarterback. If O’Brien only had success with the greatest quarterback ever, then one could reasonably question if O’Brien was just a product of Brady. However, the coach’s tenure with Houston proves that he can call a successful NFL offense for lesser quarterbacks. 

When O’Brien first arrived in Houston, he did not have a franchise quarterback. Despite this, he still found a way to go 27-21 over his first three years with guys like Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, and Brock Osweiler running the offense. He finally found a great talent in Deshaun Watson and played a big role in turning him into one of the best young passers in football.

Obviously, O’Brien’s tenure in Houston did not end on the highest of notes, but those issues shouldn’t resurface in New England. O’Brien’s failure had everything to do with his inability as a general manager, and Bill Belichick isn’t going anywhere. The greatest coach ever will continue to bring in the talent, while O’Brien will stick around as a reliable offensive coordinator. 

The Two Tight End Offense

O’Brien’s biggest value comes from helping Mac Jones develop into a franchise quarterback. However, he might also be able to bring out the best in some of their other players. New England broke the bank for Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, and the duo didn’t live up to their full potential. While Henry had a great season, Smith didn’t do much of anything and the offense primarily operated out of 11 personnel (one tight end on the field) instead of 12. 

O’Brien’s time calling plays in New England perfectly aligns with the Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez duo taking over the league. McDaniels was here in 2012, but Gronkowski and Hernandez only played one fully healthy game together that year. Hernandez injured his ankle in Week 2 and took a while to return to form, while Gronkowski broke his forearm in Week 11’s matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. So, even though they were on the same roster, they really didn’t spend all that much time on the field together. 

Now, Hunter Henry is no Rob Gronkowski and Jonnu Smith is no Aaron Hernandez, but it stands to reason that the guy who figured out how to use the previous duo might be able to do it again. From a skill set perspective, Henry and Smith are both similar to lesser versions of Gronkowski and Hernandez. Maybe Bill O’Brien figures something out with these two, or maybe this remains Hunter Henry’s show with Smith relegated being the Patriots backup. Either way, it can’t hurt to try.

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