Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is reportedly returning to the New England Patriots, reuniting with Bill Belichick and quarterback Mac Jones as the Patriots’ play-caller for the 2023 season.
O’Brien last coached in the NFL from 2014-’20, serving as the Houston Texans head coach and general manager before being fired. Prior to his tenure in Houston, O’Brien started his NFL coaching career in 2007 as an offensive assistant for Belichick ad worked his way up the coaching ladder.
From 2009-’10, O’Brien worked one-on-one with Tom Brady as the Patriots’ quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2011. More than a decade later, he is now headed back to New England.
As first reported by ESPN, O’Brien is leaving Nick Saban’s coaching staff at Alabama after two seasons to reunite with Belichick and Jones.
While the new Patriots’ play-caller didn’t coach Jones during the 2020 college football season, the coach and quarterback already have an existing relationship. During the 2021 offseason, Jones helped teach O’Brien about Alabama’s system and the two communicated regularly about the program to ease O’Brien’s tradition.
When the Patriots announced a coaching search for a new offensive coordinator this offseason, many viewed O’Brien as the favorite. Belichick faced pressure from a top executive to bring the former quarterbacks coach and coordinator back to New England.
However, the hiring was far from a guarantee. O’Brien reportedly had concerns about returning to the Patriots, specifically tied to questions about the level of control Belichick would provide him with the offense and his assistants.
Considering how quickly the deal came together, with New England becoming the first NFL team to hire an offensive coordinator this spring, O’Brien will likely receive far more creative freedoms than former Patriots’ coordinators have experienced in the past.