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Best New England Patriots offensive coordinator candidates to replace Matt Patricia

New England Patriots
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots didn’t have an offensive coordinator in 2022, with Bill Belichick relying upon assistants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge to handle the responsibilities. Following a disappointing 2022 season, changes are coming in 2023.

Very few people outside of Belichick saw believed putting Patricia and Judge in charge of the offense would yield positive results. After watching Josh McDaniels leave and take top offensive assistants with him, Belichick opted for replacements he trusted over hiring the best coaches who could help the offense the most.

Related: New England Patriots coaching staff to undergo changes

It took very little time for the warning signs to emerge out of the Patriots’ building. Players privately expressed concern regarding the direction of the offense early in the summer. Soon after, beat writers provided multiple alarming reports regarding the scheme and cohesion.

  • New England Patriots offense (2022): 21.4 PPG (17th), 42.22% red-zone touchdown rate (32nd), 34.88% third-down conversion rate (27th), 1.8 Offensive Touchdowns per Game (25th)

After missing the playoffs, largely because of an offense that ranked 24th in Offensive DVOA, New England is finally prepared to make changes. Let’s dive into the best Patriots offensive coordinator candidates in 2023.

Bill O’Brien, Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator

NFL: New England Patriots at Houston Texans
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Bill O’Brien seemed to be on the Patriots’ radar in 2022. However, the former NFL and college football coach opted to remain at Alabama. It’s also believed that Belichick didn’t aggressively pursue the play-caller he holds in high regard because of the respect he has for Nick Saban.

New England can no longer afford to make its coaching decisions based on respect for other head coaches. The Patriots haven’t won a playoff game since the 2018 season and owner Robert Kraft has made it abundantly clear that standards aren’t being met. If the offense doesn’t take a significant step forward in 2023, it’s not out of the question that more drastic moves will happen.

Related: Matt Patricia, Joe Judge expected to remain with New England Patriots in 2023

The Patriots must show to Mac Jones this offseason that they are committed to putting him in a better position for success. One step toward accomplishing that is hiring a coach he holds a great relationship with and will and confidence working alongside. Alabama averaged 7.7 yards per play (3rd in FBS) with Jones under center during the 2020-’21 season, scoring 48.5 PPG. O’Brien’s relationship with Jones and his familiarity with the Patriots’ system makes him a perfect target.

Zac Robinson, Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Minicamp
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay granted all of his assistants with the opportunity to explore other opportunities this spring. Zac Robinson should already be on the Patriots’ radar as a potential quarterbacks coach, but hiring him as the offensive coordinator also shouldn’t be out of the question for Belichick.

Drafted by Belichick with the 250th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Robinson spent part of the 2010 season on the Patriots practice squad. While he didn’t find success as an NFL quarterback, he is quickly rising in the coaching ranks. He joined the Rams’ coaching staff in 2019 as an assistant quarterbacks coach then worked with the wide receivers in 2020. When Kevin O’Connell left the Rams and brought Wes Phillips with him, McVay made Robinson his QBs coach and passing game coordinator.

Robinson is also a former analyst for Pro Football Focus, embracing many of the same analytics that New England uses in their evaluation process. While hiring Robinson means bringing in a new system, his expertise and innovative mind could help create a better offense for Jones.

Kliff Kingsbury, former Arizona Cardinals head coach

NFL: New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
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Kliff Kingsbury faces an uphill climb if he wants to become an NFL head coach again. He didn’t fare well in the lead position at Texas Tech, despite having Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. With the Arizona Cardinals, he showed an inability to make adjustments both late in games and in the second half of seasons.

New England is the perfect spot for him. Teaming up with Belichick allows Kingsbury to learn from one of the smartest minds in NFL history. He’ll discover ways to better exploit defensive vulnerabilities, counteract moves before the opponent even makes them and gain a much better understanding of how to adapt to different situations.

The Patriots’ offense also benefits from adding Kingsbury. He can build a bond with Jones, partnering up with someone who is likely going to be easier to work with than Kyler Murray. New England’s play-calling will also start approaching the modern games, with Kingsbury pulling it away from the archaic, predictable offense that Judge and Patricia orchestrated in 2022.

Related: What to make of New England Patriots’ Jerod Mayo announcement

Mike LaFleur, former New York Jets offensive coordinator

Syndication: The Record
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Highlighting Mike LaFleur as an intriguing option for the Patriots offensive coordinator candidates won’t be popular. He was just fired by the New York Jets play-caller, designing an offense that ranked 29th in scoring (17.4 PPG) and 25th in total yardage (318.2 total ypg).

Related: NFL evaluators slam New England Patriots ‘predictable’ offense

The truth is, those numbers say a lot more about the Jets. Zach Wilson is one of the worst quarterbacks in football, highlighted by the fact the Jets’ criticism of him centered on his inability to do basic things. LaFleur never truly had a real shot at being successful with Wilson, Joe Flacco and Mike White executing his game plan.

Instead, we focus on who LaFleur was before landing in New York. Matt LaFleur desperately wanted to hire his brother, but San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan blocked interview requests.

LaFleur served as Shanahan’s top assistant with the Atlanta Falcons then followed him to San Francisco as passing game coordinator (2017-’19). The Shanahan offense is what Jones needs and a fresh start for New England could benefit both sides, plus Belichick could prove the Jets missed out on someone great.