The New England Patriots have made another addition to their offensive coaching staff. After already hiring Bill O’Brien as the unit’s coordinator and later adding Will Lawing in an as-of-yet unannounced capacity — he is a prime candidate to coach tight ends — the team brought in Adrian Klemm from the University of Oregon.
The hire is not official as of Tuesday morning, but the expectation is that Klemm will be working with the offensive line.
Who is Adrian Klemm?
Previous position: University of Oregon associate head coach/run game coordinator/offensive line coach
Playing background: A four-year starter at Hawai’i, Klemm entered the NFL in 2000 when the Patriots made him the first ever draft pick of the Bill Belichick era: he was selected 46th overall in the second round, and went on to spend five seasons with the organization. While he failed to develop into a regular contributor and struggled with injuries — he appeared in just 26 games with 10 starts — he still earned himself a trio of Super Bowl rings.
Klemm left New England in free agency in 2005, signing a two-year deal with the Green Bay Packers. Serving as a hybrid tackle and guard, he started eight games during his first season with the club but was cut with an injury settlement ahead of his 2006 campaign. The release effectively ended his playing career.
Coaching background: Klemm’s coaching career began in 2008 as a graduate assistant at SMU; his former college coach, June Jones, coached the Mustangs that year and gave him an opportunity in coaching and recruiting. Klemm spent four total seasons in University Park, including the final three as offensive line coach. He also served as recruiting coordinator during the 2011 season.
Klemm left for UCLA in 2012, where he started out as run game coordinator and O-line coach — a dual role he held for all five seasons at the school. The final three also saw him serve as associate head coach under Jim Mora. However, he was put under a two-year show-cause order by the NCAA for recruiting violations in September 2016 and eventually fired the following January.
Klemm spent the 2018 season out of coaching before joining the Pittsburgh Steelers as their assistant offensive line coach. After two seasons at the job, working under coordinator Randy Fichtner and O-line coach Shaun Sarrett, he was promoted in 2021 following Sarrett’s departure. Klemm did not last even a full year, being granted his exit in December to join Oregon’s staff under incoming head coach Dan Lanning.
Now, Klemm’s coaching journey takes him back to the team where his NFL career began 23 years ago.
Why did the Patriots hire him to their coaching staff?
Whether or not the Patriots will fully move on from Matt Patricia or simply assign him to another area of responsibility within the organization remains to be seen, but the fact is that his two roles he held in 2022 have been given to others: Bill O’Brien will serve as offensive play-caller in his position as coordinator, with Klemm now brought in to coach the offensive line — either in cooperation with assistant Billy Yates, or as a standalone O-line coach.
The need to replace Patricia with a traditional coaching setup was the foundation for Klemm to be hired, but his résumé as an offensive line coach both in college and at the NFL level were the driving factors behind the team pursuing him in the first place. As can be seen above, he brings more than two decades of experience to the table.
As far as his success is concerned, there were ups and downs.
The first category includes his stint at UCLA, where he was hailed for his abilities to connect with his players and recruiting prospects. The team also had some successful stretches of play, resulting in four of his players getting selected in the NFL Draft between 2013 and 2017 (including New England’s Conor McDermott).
His time with the Steelers, meanwhile, was more of a mixed bag. The following analysis from Behind the Steel Curtain’s K.T. Smith breaks down the job Klemm did in his lone year as offensive line coach in 2021:
[O]pposing teams noticed the inability of Pittsburgh’s line to execute well against stems, slants and stunts, they became increasingly active. That was on Klemm. It was his job to have the unit prepared to handle these types of movements. Klemm was dealt a bad hand from the standpoint of talent and experience, and the injuries certainly disrupted chemistry. But his failure to get them to execute better as the year progressed was as disappointing as his failure to have them play more physically.
One of the Steelers’ issues, according to offensive tackle Dan Moore Jr. the offseason after Klemm left, was an inability to play with proper technique.
“I think last year we tried to have an aggressive mindset,” he said in 2022. “I think the best way to describe it this year is controlled aggression. We just don’t want to run off the ball with our heads down and no technique. We really want to be technicians. We want to be grounded in what we do.”
His latest stop, meanwhile, was a success story again. Oregon had one of the best rushing attacks in the Pac-12 in 2022, and also gave up only 18 sacks in 13 games — the lowest number in the FBS.
So, with all that said, let’s go back to answer the question above: Why did the Patriots hire Adrian Klemm, presumably as their offensive line coach?
They are apparently counting on him being able to duplicate his success at Oregon with a more talented group of players than the one he had at his disposal with the Steelers. Whether or not he will be able to do that remains to be seen, but Klemm has shown that he can successfully coach an offensive line — which in itself is an improvement over his predecessor.