Curran: Pats want job done right with ‘blank slate' offense

Curran: Pats want job done right with ‘blank slate' offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

For the first time in 24 years, the New England Patriots will have a chance at a clean rebuild without former head coach and general manager Bill Belichick. New head coach Jerod Mayo will tackle the tough job of leading the Patriots into a new era -- and that new era starts with this pivotal offseason.

From his staff to the players that will take the field next season, Mayo has a blank slate to build with. While it seems just all but official that Mayo will promote DeMarcus Covington from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator, the new head coach is still taking his time selecting an offensive coordinator.

While the delay in hiring a new OC inevitably stalls the rest of the team's plans to build out the roster around a specific scheme, it may not be all bad -- something Tom E. Curran explained in the latest episode of NBC Sports Boston's Quick Slants.

"Jerod Mayo has interviewed 11 men, trying to find the best one to run an offense that, as it currently stands, is virtually non-existent," Curran said of the Patriots' search for a new offensive coordinator. "It's a blank slate, both in terms of plan and personnel."

While no decision has been made, it is reported that Los Angeles Rams tight ends coach Nick Caley is well-positioned to lead New England's offense next season.

Once Mayo selects his staff, the new team of coaches must figure out what direction the team will go moving forward. With question marks at nearly every position on offense, Mayo needs to make a splash with their third pick in NFL Draft -- where they are expected to take a QB -- and the loaded upcoming free agency which features offensive weapons such as Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr., Mike Evans, Marquise Brown, Calvin Ridley, Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry, Dalton Schultz, and multiple starting-caliber offensive linemen.

In terms of New England's own expiring contracts, Mayo and the Patriots will need to make a call on 26 players who are set to be free agents -- four of whom were named in ESPN's top 50 ranking (Kyle Dugger, Mike Onwenu, Trent Brown, and Josh Uche).

Curran also adds how under Belichick, the Patriots failed to make the correct personnel calls in re-signing their own talent, signing the wrong players, and making bad selections in the draft. New England let Jakobi Meyers walk in favor of JuJu Smith-Schuster, signed DeVante Parker, wasted a first-round pick on N'Keal Harry and third-round picks on Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi -- also noting that the Patriots "most importantly and most recently" blew a first-round pick on quarterback Mac Jones.

"Extracting Bill [Belichick], it was a big job," Curran added. "With all the complicated allegiances on the staff left behind, it's not like they could just start the operation before they did him the courtesy of a postseason sit-down. I understand that getting it done is less important than getting it right. These are not one-year decisions they're making -- a coach, an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, a quarterback -- it's going to be a three- or four-year season declaration of your direction."

In what needs to be a monumental offseason for the Patriots, the free agency period begins on March 13 with the NFL Draft kicking off on April 25.