The New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator search is in the books, as Bill O’Brien will reportedly join the team to take over the vacant position. For the 53-year-old, it is a homecoming of sorts: he already was a member of the Patriots’ coaching staff from 2007 to 2011, including the final season as coordinator.
Among those feeling good about the Patriots’ decision to bring O’Brien back into the fold is team captain Devin McCourty. Appearing on the new episode of the Patriots Talk podcast, he spoke highly of what the team’s new OC will add to the equation.
“It’s fun just to see him back,” McCourty said before going into further detail.
Using a clip of O’Brien arguing with Tom Brady back in 2011 as a basis, McCourty went on to talk about the coaching style he will bring to the table. For the veteran defender, two descriptors stand out.
“Passionate. Super-competitive,” McCourty said. “A guy that you can talk trash to in practice, back and forth throughout training camp. And he always welcomed that. That was always fun as a younger player coming into the NFL not knowing what to expect, and just seeing the passion and fire come from the offensive coordinator, a guy that’s on the sideline. ...
“And obviously, the production speaks for itself. A lot of people should be happy and excited having him back in town.”
O’Brien left the Patriots in 2012 after coordinating them to a Super Bowl appearance. Following stints at Penn State and with the Houston Texans, he joined the University of Alabama in 2020.
While O’Brien arrived in Tuscaloosa following the departure of future first-round draft pick Mac Jones, he made sure to establish a connection with the eventual Patriots quarterback. For McCourty, that connection will be a good basis for the two men to build a relationship.
“I think it’ll be great,” he said. “A lot of times we assume how relationships will go, but relationships are built. I think obviously they’re going to have a connection with all of the Alabama stuff — Billy O just coming from there and obviously Mac being two years removed. I think they’ll have an opportunity to build a relationship. That will form into whatever is best for them and the team.
“But I think you watch Billy O, you watch Tom, all those competitors. ... To play quarterback in this league, you have to be that kind of ultra-competitive guy that wants to win every rep, that wants to be meticulous about the details and everything that goes into it. I don’t think that will be anything new for either one of those guys working together. I think that’s something that — whatever their relationship’s going to be — they’re going to build it, they’re going to form it.”
McCourty added that the bond between quarterback and coordinator would be a different one from one pairing to the next. However, he expressed confidence in O’Brien and Jones being able to create a productive working relationship.
“A lot of times you see in this league quarterbacks, offensive coordinators, quarterback coaches, that relationship will be unique to them,” he said. “Nobody else will probably understand it, and it will be different with each quarterback. But I think they will build on it and I think it will be great for the Patriots.”