Albert Breer: Why Patriots passed on Bill O'Brien, Nick Caley for offensive coordinator job

·2 min read

Breer: Why Patriots passed on two strong candidates for OC job originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Time will tell if Matt Patricia is cut out to be the New England Patriots' play-caller. In the meantime, we've heard plenty of questions about Bill Belichick's succession plan for Josh McDaniels.

The Patriots didn't name an offensive coordinator following McDaniels' departure, with Patricia -- who has never called an offensive play in an NFL game -- assuming play-calling duties while collaborating with Belichick and quarterbacks coach Joe Judge.

But why did Belichick choose Patricia when he could have brought back old friend Bill O'Brien or promoted an assistant coach more familiar with the offense in tight ends coach Nick Caley?

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Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer provided more insight on how the Patriots landed on Patricia as their play-caller Sunday on NBC Sports Boston's "Patriots Pregame Live."

"My understanding is that Bill O'Brien would have been amenable to coming back here," Breer said. "... He was going to let Bill and (Alabama head coach) Nick (Saban) handle this. And ultimately, Bill Belichick didn't want to bring Bill O'Brien back because he was afraid he might lose him after a year."

O'Brien, who's in his second year as Alabama's offensive coordinator, is a seasoned coach who served as the Patriots' offensive coordinator in 2011 and spent seven years as the Houston Texans' head coach from 2014 to 2020. So, it's highly possible he would have returned to Alabama or taken another coaching gig after a year in Foxboro.

But what about Caley, who is one of the longest-tenured offensive coaches in New England (hired in 2015)?

"He's been the one who has had to explain the offense and essentially teach the offense to a lot of people inside that building," Breer noted of Caley. "But he doesn't have a contract past this year. In fact, my understanding is that one of the reasons he didn't sign an extension is because he couldn't get clarity on his role.

"And now it's the same thing with Bill O'Brien where, because Bill Belichick doesn't know if Caley's going to be here past this year, he doesn't want to have to go through the process of replacing him (in 2023)."

It sounds like Belichick didn't want to change play-callers three times in three seasons and thus didn't want to risk naming an offensive play-caller who might leave the team next season. Thus, he landed on a trusted confidant in Patricia, who is entering his 16th season working with Belichick.

Check out Breer's full report in the video above.