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Report: Bill O’Brien is the Patriots’ primary target for offensive coordinator

O’Brien returning to New England seems like a realistic outcome.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 SEC Championship Game - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

According to a recently released press statement, the New England Patriots will start conducting interviews for their open offensive coordinator position this week. While the process is only getting started, it appears the result already might be set in stone: all signs are pointing toward Bill O’Brien rejoining the team.

Per a report by NBC Boston’s Tom E. Curran, O’Brien is the Patriots’ “primary target” for the coordinator spot and him returning to his old stomping grounds likely:

The primary target is former Patriots OC, former Penn State and Texans head coach, former Alabama OC Bill O’Brien. There is unanimity on all sides that O’Brien’s the best person for the job and — while there are other candidates with merit — the familiarity ownership and Mac Jones have with O’Brien and O’Brien’s willingness to return mean it would be an upset if he doesn’t get the job.

O’Brien, 53, spent the last two years leading the offense at the University of Alabama. Before joining Nick Saban’s staff with the Crimson Tide, he spent several years in the NFL — including in New England.

Originally joining the organization in 2007 as an offensive assistant, O’Brien quickly rose through the ranks. By 2011, he was the team’s coordinator and immediately led the Patriots to a Super Bowl appearance.

His job that season opened the head-coaching doors for O’Brien. He first joined his Penn State for a two-year stint between 2012 and 2013. Afterwards, he served in the same position with the Houston Texans for not quite seven seasons. After his firing during the 2020 campaign, he moved to Alabama — taking over the offense one year after current Patriots starting quarterback Mac Jones left the school.

The two men sporadically crossed paths that offseason, but it now appears they are destined to start working together in New England. That said, the Patriots cannot simply bring O’Brien in as their new coordinator: per NFL rules, they have to hold an interviews process that also features at least one external minority candidate.

How that process will unfold remains to be seen. At the end of the day, however, O’Brien is still the betting favorite to land the job.