Bill O’Brien reportedly a ‘strong option’ to return to the Patriots

O'Brien worked in New England from 2007-11.

Bill Belichick and Bill O'Brien could be working together again soon. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The Patriots’ resolution to fix their offensive woes might be to call an old name.

Bill O’Brien is a strong option to return to the Patriots and become their offensive coordinator again, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Saturday. O’Brien, who grew up in Andover, is wrapping up his second season as Alabama’s offensive coordinator as it’s set to face Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl. Reports have emerged in recent weeks that O’Brien is looking to return to the NFL.

O’Brien was part of the Patriots’ offensive coaching staff from 2007-11. After working as the quarterbacks coach in 2009 and 2010, O’Brien was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2011. The Patriots led the league in scoring in O’Brien’s lone season as the offensive coordinator and were second in yards as they reached the Super Bowl that season.


New England’s offense has struggled after longtime Josh McDaniels departed in February to take the Las Vegas Raiders’ head coaching job. After ranking in the top 10 in several metrics, the Patriots’ offense ranks in the bottom 10 in several stats under Matt Patricia, who’s the de facto offensive coordinator. They’re 25th in total offense and are dead last in red zone efficiency.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick seemed to acknowledge his team’s offensive dysfunction in an interview with WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” following their Dec. 1 loss to the Bills. However, he said it’s “too hard” to make “dramatic changes” this late in the season.

Following his time with the Patriots, O’Brien became the head coach at Penn State, helping revive the program following the Jerry Sandusky scandal. He went 15-9 over two seasons there.

In 2014, O’Brien went back to the NFL to become the coach of the Houston Texans. O’Brien had a relatively successful seven-year tenure there, going 52-48 and winning four division titles over seven seasons. He helped mold Deshaun Watson into becoming a franchise quarterback over his time there.

O’Brien’s downfall in Houston began in when he became the team’s de facto general manager right before the 2019 season. After a pair of questionable trades and an 0-4 start to the 2020 season, the Texans fired O’Brien.


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