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#PostPulpit Mailbag: Are the Patriots assembling a coaching staff in front of our eyes?

This week’s edition of our Patriots mailbag takes a look at the coaching staff, and more.

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

The New England Patriots’ offseason is officially underway as the team has spent the week interviewing a handful of candidates for their vacant offensive coaching position. With much of the attention focused on the coaching staff, lets jump right into this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag.

@Skywal1Thaddeus Could some of these potential candidates, that the Pats are interviewing for the OC position, end up on the Pats staff, just in different roles?

After Friday’s interview with Shawn Jefferson, the Patriots will have reportedly completed five interviews for their offensive coordinator position:

  • Alabama Offensive coordinator/Quarterbacks Bill O’Brien
  • Cardinals Associate Head Coach/Wide Receivers Shawn Jefferson
  • Vikings Wide Receivers Keenan McCardell
  • Oregon Associate Head Coach/Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Adrian Klemm
  • Patriots Tight Ends Nick Caley

To me, that looks like an entire staff that is starting to take shape. They likely won't land both Jefferson and McCardell, but just one would give New England experienced coaches at offensive coordinator, wide receivers, and offensive line, while potentially retaining Nick Caley at tight ends coach.

The tricky part could be hiring coaches in what’s considered a lateral move, meaning McCardell might not be interested in moving from Minnesota to New England for the same job. That’s why all of these candidates are interviewing for offensive coordinator as it signals a promotion, but it very well could just be a path to gaining familiarity with coaches New England is interested in (or perhaps Bill O’Brien telling them to be interested in them if he is the clear No. 1 option for OC).

They could work around some of these moves by adding a title like “pass game coordinator” to McCardell to signify an upgrade (Doug Marrone as offensive line/run game coordinator?). They won't have to worry about this with Klemm as he would come from the collegiate level, but Jefferson is an interesting case as he already holds an Associate Head Coach title. As he was a Kingsbury guy in Arizona, however, perhaps he is let free when their new head coach is brought in.

Either way, if they were able to bring in a handful of these coaches it would be a great addition for New England.

@DMcBrayer76 Do you feel that Troy Brown could be added to the offensive coordinator search?

No. And the fact that New England has brought in multiple wide receiver coaches to interview for this position makes me wonder about Brown’s future with the team.

New England’s receiver track record of late is well-documented and the entire room was a mess last year. The unit did not play to their potential as the routes were sloppy and they often took too long to get into them. It was also Brown’s first-year manning the room. Bringing in someone with a proven record, fresh ideas, and a different perspective may be worthwhile.

Now, Brown has played a big role in helping receivers like Jakobi Meyers early in his career and was signaled out by Belichick as a key part of Marcus Jones’ development in the return game this year. He still should have a role on this staff, but maybe he's at his best with a more experienced receivers coach leading the way above him.

@CoachJSpit Why can’t we move on from O’Brian? He’s not great, he probably doesn’t even get hired back at Bama.

I agree that it shouldn't be O’Brien-or-bust for New England. He’s not one of these young up-and-coming innovators like Mike McDaniel, but I still believe when it’s all said and done he’s the best option for them.

Besides his relationship with Belichick and ownership, New England needs someone with play-calling experience at the helm. While the other candidates are good coaches, it seems dangerous to enter another season with a first-year play caller at the helm. That’s why my target would be O’Brien at OC with the hope he brings someone like Jefferson with him on his staff.

From a schematic point of view, O’Brien’s system should also help Mac Jones — which is the No. 1 goal for anyone coming in. O’Brien knows New England’s old system and can now incorporate parts of Alabama’s offense that Jones liked as well.

@livefree0rdie_ Is anybody but me worried that everyone’s treating Bill O’Brien as if he’s the second coming of Bill Walsh? We scored 14 points in the only Super Bowl we made with him. And why would a guy who has had a lot of success in the league want to go back to the job he had 15 yrs ago?

I wouldn't put too much stock into one game (nonetheless the Super Bowl) New England had with O’Brien leading the offense back in his first stint with the team. Their offense consistently ranked near the top of the league and he could likely implant a similar offense to the 2011 one the day he enters the building.

While much attention is rightfully put on the two tight-end sets, the 2011 attack killed teams with tempo, efficiency, and out of the spread. That’s the opposite of their early aggressive approach this year that proved to be way too volatile.

As for why BOB would want to come back here, I view it as a chance for him to prove himself again. While Alabama’s offensive personnel was nothing like what it’s been in recent years, their offense still took a step back this season. If O’Brien can come back to New England and get Mac Jones and this offense back on track, he’d likely have head coaching opportunities waiting for him in the future.

@jd_hazel How long of a leash does Mac get with his 3rd OC in three years?

With a new coordinator and hopefully improved skill players around him, the hope is Mac Jones takes a noticeable step forward in year three (something similar to Tua Tagovailoa with Mike McDaniel, Tyreek Hill, etc.).

If the improvements around him happen and he still looks bad, then New England will likely decline his fifth-year option at the end of the season and be back into the QB carousel next offseason. As for his actual leash in the year, it depends on how bad he is playing. But if it’s clear he’s not the guy for the future through the first half of the year, I would hope they give Bailey Zappe a handful of starts down the stretch to see what it looks like.

@Bret_Judkins Thoughts on FS situation? Is D Mac coming back for one last rodeo? Is there a FA or possible draft replacement?

It’s one of their biggest needs this offseason as my gut prediction would be D-Mac will not be back next season (just a guess). The free safety role is one of the most important positions in the Patriots defense and it’s becoming harder and harder to find a player like that in the draft as college teams are moving their defensive backs all around the field.

With the importance of that position in New England, it would not be surprising if the team looked for a potential replacement in free agency. Jessie Bates is the top option available as it seems probable he won't be signed long-term in Cincinnati. He’ll likely command roughly $10-12 million annually. Paying that to a high-end safety instead of giving a J.C. Jackson contract to a lesser cornerback seems like a Patriots move.

@defnotES2 How good will Barmore be in 2023?

He’s a beast. You could easily argue he’s their most talented player. It was unfortunate to see him battle a knee injury this year that cost him seven games, but you could see his impact when he returned as he racked up 11 total pressures in their final two games (including seven against Miami). Very excited to see what Barmore and that entire pass rush does next season.

@avaragegaypats Do you think the patriots should draft Michael Mayer the te from notre dame

I think tight end is somewhat of a need on this roster, especially if they move on from Hunter Henry or find a way out of Jonnu Smith’s deal. But, Mayer seems like a consensus first-round pick based off several big boards and I just don't think that’s worth it for New England. They need to use their first-round pick on a premium position (wide receiver, offensive tackle, cornerback).

@AidanLennox1 Would you rather take Lamar or Mac. I really want to stick with Mac Jones personally

If you have a chance to add Lamar Jackson you do it. Unfortunately, I doubt they have the chance too (and might not be interested in paying him what he wants).

@EnterWithPeace what are the chances of a tom brady, patriots reunion? with that defense and those pieces in offense a ring is surely within reach…

Another QB option I would put as slim-to-zero. Although I think the biggest piece they could add to entice Brady would be O’Brien. But, I still find it hard to believe it will be anyone other than Mac Jones next season.

@TMurph207 PB&J or Fluffernutter

No disrespect to the fluff but PB&J. Elite snack.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!