Curran: Stressing the importance of choosing the next Pats OC

Curran: Stressing the importance of choosing the next Pats OC originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

One week after being introduced as New England Patriots head coach, Jerod Mayo is in the process of assembling his staff.

Atop Mayo's to-do list is finding a new offensive coordinator. The position became vacant after Bill O'Brien took the OC job at Ohio State. It's a critical decision for the first-year head coach as he looks to fix an offense that was flat-out abysmal in 2023.

Our Tom E. Curran broke down the importance of finding the right offensive coordinator during Tuesday's episode of Quick Slants. First, he explained that whoever the OC ends up being won't be walking into the most pleasant situation.

"I wanna know who the OC is. You wanna know who the OC is. Wanna know what the OC will wanna know? Who he’s coaching," Curran said. "Let us run through for a moment, position by position, how many players the Patriots have under contract that would be considered top 15 in the league at their position.

"Quarterback, none. Tackle, none. Guard, none -- Cole Strange may be sniffing around 20. Center, David Andrews, we'll give you that. Tight end, none. Running back, Rhamondre Stevenson probably in the top dozen or so. X receiver -- that's Davante (Parker) -- none. Y receiver -- that's your slot DeMario (Douglas) -- OK, we'll give it to ya. Z receiver, JuJu (Smith-Schuster) or Kayshon Boutte, neither one qualifies."

Unfortunately for Mayo and Co., they need to find their offensive coordinator before going on the spending spree they plan to have when free agency begins in March. Whoever takes the job will have plenty on their plate, and that leaves Curran wondering whether the Patriots should opt for someone with previous experience coaching an offense.

"If the new OC has a vision for building his offense around the center, running back and a slot receiver, hire his ass. If not, the vision’s going to have to wait," Curran added. "To borrow the always apt shopping analogy from Bill Parcells, they aren’t at the 'cook the dinner' stage yet. They haven’t even laid out the groceries on the counter. They’re on the way to the supermarket. They have to find a resourceful shopper.

"But a coordinator does more than just draw up the plays. The job is in the name. He coordinates everything. It's the meetings, it's the coaches, it's the atmosphere. It's what they’re taught, how they’re taught, the speed at which the install goes. When they are ready to go to the next thing, he decides, then you can talk about philosophy and style. So you have a rookie head coach and a rookie offensive coordinator with an as-yet-unnamed GM. That’s a mountain of work and I start to wonder, should there be a veteran offensive coordinator in here or not?"

Acknowledging that an experienced offensive coordinator might make the most sense for New England, fellow Patriots insider Phil Perry noted a few teams that have found success with previously inexperienced OCs.

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"There is certainly merit to getting a veteran OC in here, maybe even somebody who's been a head coach before just to help you coordinate, as you point out," Perry told Curran. "What I would say is, if you look at the recent history in the league, you can have success with a rookie coach and a rookie offensive coordinator if you have the right pieces around.

"You look down in Houston: DeMeco Ryans, rookie head coach. Bobby Slowik, rookie offensive coordinator. Great year with CJ Stroud. In Detroit, Dan Campbell young head coach. Ben Johnson, young offensive coordinator, started there a couple years ago. They're having all kinds of success in Detroit. And how about Miami, where the head coach is also basically the offensive coordinator in Mike McDaniel? And though they disappointed this year, especially down the stretch, I think you have to say their offense is pretty good.

"So, I think there is merit to going young as long as those ideas are fresh and you can communicate them in the right way, you can get those guys coordinated properly, you can have success whether the OC has experience or not."

As of Tuesday, Mayo has interviewed or scheduled interviews with four offensive coordinator candidates: Los Angeles Rams tight ends coach Nick Caley, Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson, Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher, and Seattle Seahawks OC Shane Waldron, who recently was named the Chicago Bears' OC.

You can watch the full episode of this week's Quick Slants below: