With Bill O’Brien reportedly expected to be hired by the Ohio State Buckeyes, the New England Patriots will be looking to fill their now vacant offensive coordinator role on the coaching staff.
The possibility of change with the offensive play-calling was always a possibility with newly-hired Patriots coach Jerod Mayo hiring his own staff. At Wednesday’s introductory press conference, he noted “everything was under consideration,” when asked if he planned on opening an offensive coordinator search.
The Patriots offense has ranked among the worst in football for the last two seasons. So it’s clearly a unit that could use a fresh pair of eyes. Granted, it won’t matter who they hire, if they fail to address the lackluster talent on the roster through free agency and the draft.
There are a plethora of intriguing options out there for the Patriots to help turn things around. Here are five offensive coordinator candidates for New England to replace Bill O’Brien:
Josh McDaniels is the most obvious candidate on the list considering the long history he’s had with the Patriots. He might ultimately decide to follow Bill Belichick to his next coaching destination, but it would make sense for Mayo to give him a call.
Of course, Mayo could go into his first year as head coach with a plan to blow everything up and start from scratch. That plan might not be as effective by revisiting the past and bringing in another former Belichick disciple.
But then again, McDaniels is one of the league’s best offensive minds, and any team with a struggling offense would clearly benefit from his presence.
Josh McDaniels returning to New England would be a feel-good story, but honestly, it would be more exciting if the Patriots went outside the box and brought in an up-and-coming offensive coach like Zac Robinson.
The Los Angeles Rams pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach comes from the Sean McVay tree, which tends to bear good fruit. He’s another young offensive coach that could help kick-start a new era for the Patriots under Mayo. There’s a history in New England as well considering he was drafted by the team in 2010.
Moving up in the coaching world might mean Robinson has to branch off from McVay at some point, and that opportunity to ultimately prove himself could come in the form of the Patriots’ struggling offense.
Nick Caley has spent multiple years learning under Bill Belichick as an offensive assistant, tight ends coach and fullbacks coach for the Patriots. He ventured off to the Rams last season with the tight ends coaching job still serving as his primary title.
However, Caley clearly has the ability to call the offense, and those opportunities might have felt stagnant under Belichick. Now that a new regime is taking over in New England, this could be a chance for Caley to return and take over the offensive play-calling.
He’s familiar with the roster already in place, having coached for the team as early as 2022, and he could hit the ground running.
Shane Waldron has a history with the Patriots that stems all the way back to his days as an operations intern in 2003. He has gone on to carve out an extensive career for himself, including rising to the role of offensive play-caller for the Seattle Seahawks in 2021.
With Pete Carrol no longer the head coach for the Seahawks, perhaps it’s time for Waldron to take on a new challenge in New England. Last year, the Seahawks had a top-10 scoring offense under Waldron’s watch. Quarterback Geno Smith is also playing the best football he’s played in his entire career.
Nothing but good things could come from Waldron joining the coaching staff in New England.
Kliff Kingsbury is looking for an opportunity to get back into the NFL considering he was recently interviewed for the Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator position. The Patriots should be in on those conversations as well.
In my recent seven-round NFL mock draft, I projected the Patriots trading up to the No. 1 overall spot with the Bears and selecting USC quarterback Caleb Williams. Kingsbury has extensive experience working behind the scenes with Williams, and it could be a genius idea to keep that connection going at the next level.
Hiring Kingsbury as the new offensive coordinator and trading up to draft Williams would be the sort of big move that could pay off huge for the rebuilding Patriots. Kingsbury’s experience as a former NFL head coach could also prove to be valuable for Mayo.
It would take a lot of dominoes for things to fall in line accordingly, and it would also be a big risk on the Patriots’ end to attempt to make all of this happen. But even without Williams, Kingsbury is a great offensive mind that could help New England.