‘Influential voice’ in Patriots’ organization reportedly wants to hire Bill O’Brien for OC role, sees need for impact WR

The Patriots announced Thursday they're beginning the search for an offensive coordinator.

Bill O'Brien had a five-year tenure on the Patriots' coaching staff in the past. Globe Staff Photo/Jim Davis

A day after the Patriots announced they’re searching for an offensive coordinator, it already appears there’s a leader in the clubhouse for the gig.

Bill O’Brien has the backing of at least one important person in the Patriots’ front office for the open role, NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported Friday.

“There is one very influential voice in upper management who definitively wants Bill O’Brien as the OC,” Giardi wrote in a tweet.

O’Brien has been rumored for the role weeks before the team announced they were searching for an offensive coordinator. It was reported on Dec. 24 that O’Brien was a “strong option” to return to New England and a few days later, it was reported by NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran that O’Brien’s return is “probably going to happen.”

Of course, O’Brien has previous ties to the Patriots and the area. The Andover native was on the Patriots’ staff from 2007-11, working as the offensive play caller in his final three seasons with the team, and 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.


O’Brien, who’s had head coaching stops at Penn State and with the Texans, was the offensive coordinator at Alabama the last two seasons, but his contract expired following its win in the Sugar Bowl over Kansas State.

Considering the surprise announcement the Patriots made Thursday, not many other coaches have been strongly linked to the gig. Former Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, who was drafted by the Patriots in 2003, is the only other notable name tied to the job so far. The Patriots have “done their homework” on Kingsbury, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported.

Tight ends coach Nick Caley has also been speculated for the gig though the Jets are reportedly interested in him for their open offensive coordinator role.

Finding an offensive coordinator might not be the only issue surrounding the Patriots’ offense this offseason. Some people within the Patriots feel that they need to upgrade at wide receiver, Giardi added in his report.

“We don’t have one player you gotta game plan for,” a member of the organization told Giardi.

The Patriots’ passing attack struggled in 2022, ranking 20th in passing as they averaged 206.4 passing yards per game. Second-year quarterback Mac Jones notably struggled too with the new offensive setup and the perceived lack of elite talent around him, throwing for 2,997 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions with an 84.8 passer rating over 14 games.


There’s one notable issue with the Patriots’ desire to find a better receiver, though. Jakobi Meyers, who’s been the team’s leading receiver since 2020, is not only a free agent this offseason but also arguably be the top wide receiver on the free agent market this offseason. He had 67 receptions for 804 yards and a career-high six touchdowns in 14 games in 2022.

No matter what happens with Meyers though, something obviously has to change for the Patriots’ offense in 2023. After ranking in the top 10 in several offensive stats and metrics under longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in 2021, they ranked 26th in total offense and were last in red zone efficiency with Matt Patricia calling the plays in 2022.


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