The coincidence of Charlie Weis's dismissal by Notre Dame and the Patriots second-half offensive struggles and lack of productivity would suggest that the forces of nature are aligning so that Weis can take up his old job as New England's offensive coordinator. Currently, the Pats don't have anyone holding that title although quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien has been calling plays this year. With Weis suddenly unemployed and his old job with the Patriots technically open, could Weis come back? Should the Pats bring him back?
The answers in brief: yes, and maybe. More below.
I don't know the details of Weis's buyout from Notre Dame; that is, if he would lose the guaranteed money if he takes another coaching job. I'm not sure that that would even be the biggest issue. Of more importance, it seems, is whether it would be the right fit. Weis, Belichick, and Brady had a glorious five year run and arguably none of the three have been as successful seperately as they were together.Would the magic work again? Brady was a very young quarterback who needed tutoring when Weis was here. Now, he's one of the best in the history of the game. Weis has spent the last five years away from the NFL where things change rapidly. Obviously, no one would suggest that the game has passed Weis by but pro football might not be the same world that he stepped away from in 2005. Most of all, Weis had never been a head coach before the Notre Dame job. After five years of running his own show, how would he handle returning to a coordinator's role. And how would the fit be with Belichick?
Of course, Belichick did a similar thing when Cleveland fired him after 1995, rejoining his old mentor Bill Parcells with New England in 1996 and then following him to the Jets. As Michael Holley and others have documented, the second time around for Belichick and Parcells was not quite as smooth as the first. Weis and Belichick are known to remain very close and surely Belichick would be open to bringing Weis back in some capacity. But does Weis want to do that? Does he want to jump right back into the fray after five tough seasons at Notre Dame? From another perspective, would it undercut O'Brien who seems a promising young coach? Would it be seen as a vote of no confidence in the current coaching staff? And does Belichick, in fact, lack confidence in the current staff?
On the other hand, rehiring Weis would bring some very helpful experience to an extremely young offensive coaching staff. Line coach Dante Scarnecchia and backfield coach Ivan Fears are vets, but O'Brien is in only his third season with the Pats and first as playcaller, tight ends coach Shane Waldron is in his second season but first as tight ends coach after being a coaching assistant in 2008, and receivers coach Chad O'Shea is in his first season with the organization. A coaching veteran like Weis would be extremely helpful to the young coaches to whom he could serve as a mentor and advisor. Weis could also help be a sounding board and take on lots of responsibilities from Belichick,handling things the head coach has probably had to do himself this year with such a young offensive staff. Weis could also help Belichick coach the coaches, indoctrinating them into the Patriot ways. In fact, both Waldron and current coaching assistant Patrick Graham came to the Patriots from Weis's Notre Dame staff. And if Belichick could turn over more of the offense to Weis, it would free him up to concentrate more on revamping the defense.
Will Weis return? It seems there are positives and negatives on all sides to sort through first. And no one should expect, if he does come back, that it will be the magical silver bullet that will return the Pats to their Super Bowl winning teams of earlier in the decade. But it wouldn't surprise me if, even as Weis is being linked to the Bears and Browns jobs and others, he and Belichick haven't already had a conversation about the future, the results of which we may or may not learn about. Perhaps they've already talked it through and reached an understanding as to how and why a reunion will--or will not--happen.