Count the New England Patriots’ former offensive coordinator among those who think their current one will get the team back on track.
Speaking with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Las Vegas Raiders head coach and ex-Patriots OC Josh McDaniels was also asked about his old club hiring Bill O’Brien earlier this offseason. McDaniels, who worked with both O’Brien and the team’s current starting quarterback, Mac Jones, expressed confidence in his de facto heir.
“I think he’s a great coach,” he said, as transcribed by NESN’s Zack Cox. “Billy’s worked with a lot of quarterbacks before, and they’ve all had success, and he’s impacted all of those guys in a positive way. He knows the position really well, understands the league, understands how to get the most out of players at this level. He’ll do a great job.”
The Patriots were in dire need of some help on the offensive side of the ball this offseason, prompting them to bring back O’Brien.
The 53-year-old already served as New England’s offensive coordinator back in 2011 — effectively succeeding McDaniels, who had departed in 2009. O’Brien himself lasted only one season back then before leaving for Penn State, paving the way for McDaniels to return and reassume the position for the next decade.
After McDaniels left for the Raiders in 2022, however, the Patriots did not have a clear succession plan in place. This led them to move Matt Patricia and Joe Judge — their former defensive and special teams coordinators, respectively — to offense.
The experiment failed, with the unit and its young quarterback taking a step back in Year 1 after McDaniels.
To address the issue, New England went out and brought O’Brien back into the fold following his two-year stint at the University of Alabama. McDaniels is seemingly confident that the reunion will work out, and he explained why on Tuesday.
“Billy was one of those guys where, when we added Billy back in 2007, he was a guy who came from college and really wanted to make it in the NFL,” he said. “So, it was apparent right away how hard he worked, how smart he was, and you could give him a lot of responsibility and he could handle it.
“All the things that Billy has accomplished and achieved since then haven’t surprised me at all. Being successful as a coordinator in New England, winning at Penn State, winning in Houston, going down to Alabama and being part of their success there — none of that has surprised me. He’s a great football coach, extremely hard worker. I have a lot of confidence that Billy’s going to do well wherever he’s at, and obviously now that’s in New England.”