When the New York Giants hired Joe Judge as their new head coach earlier this month, the expectation was that one of his two roles with the New England Patriots — Judge had worked as special teams and wide receivers coach — would be filled rather easily: special teams assistant Cam Achord, who had worked alongside Judge ever since originally joining the organization in 2018, was seen as the frontrunner to fill the shoes of his former boss.
However, Achord being elevated to become the Patriots’ next kicking game coach may not be the foregone conclusion it appeared to be when Judge left. After all, NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported on Tuesday that the team has had discussions with another coach to potentially have him re-join its coaching staff: Scott O’Brien, who was New England’s special teams coach between the 2009 and 2014 season and as such Joe Judge’s predecessor.
Giardi wrote the following about the team’s discussions with their former assistant coach:
A name to keep in mind as the Patriots continue to shape their coaching staff is former special teams coach Scott O’Brien. There have been discussions to bring O’Brien back. He retired from on field work back in February of 2015 but has done some area scouting for the team.
As Giardi pointed out, the Patriots and O’Brien have stayed in touch after he announced his retirement from coaching following the team’s victory in Super Bowl 49. Before that game, he had spent six seasons in New England — his second stint under Bill Belichick, who also employed O’Brien in the same position at the Cleveland Browns in the early 1990s — as one of the most respected and successful special teams coaches in all of football.
While it remains to be seen whether or not O’Brien actually returns as a coach, or merely as an assistant to help Achord and reported addition Vinnie Sunseri, he is an intriguing figure considering his experience and potential impact on the staff: Is it possible O’Brien takes over as special teams coach again? Could Achord leave either the team or his current position (maybe to coach the wide receivers)? And how does Sunseri fit into all of this?
Those questions will get answered soon, but one thing is already certain at this point in timie: the Patriots’ coaching carousel will apparently continue to spin quite a bit with the retirement of Dante Scarnecchia and now a potential return of Scott O’Brien.