Patriots Talk: Could Doug Marrone join coaching staff if Bill O'Brien is the OC?

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Patriots Talk: Could Marrone join coaching staff if O'Brien is the OC? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots are pursuing a new offensive coordinator after a difficult 2022 NFL season that saw the team's offense struggle under the coaching of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.

Bill O'Brien, who spent the past two seasons as the University of Alabama offensive coordinator, is the "primary target" for the job, our Tom E. Curran reported Monday.

If O'Brien is hired by the Patriots, who will join him as the Patriots fill out their offensive coaching staff? One potential candidate is Doug Marrone, who could become the Patriots' new offensive line coach.

On the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Phil Perry and Curran discussed the possibility of Marrone and O'Brien working together in New England.

 Patriots Talk Podcast: Patriots seem to be charting a new course for ‘23 | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"I would suggest Doug Marrone if you can get Bill O'Brien to be your offensive coordinator," Perry said. "Those guys worked together at Alabama. I believe they were roommates at Alabama. Their wives are really close. It's a great story, and Mike Rodak wrote about it a year or two ago I think when they were both joining the Alabama staff. They hadn't worked together since they worked together for Georgia Tech back in 1999. So they finally get to reunite and work under Nick Saban. But their wives were roommates, I believe at BC, and they've been friends for decades.

"So can their offensive styles and schemes marry up. I'm sure they could -- Marrone and O'Brien. I think those guys would work really, really well together."

How critical is it that the Patriots figure out a real plan for the offensive line coach job?

"That to me is the second-most important hire this offseason is what are you doing with your offensive line coach? Because we know it's just such a hard position to coach," Perry said. "It might be the hardest after quarterback.

"And if Bill O'Brien is your quarterbacks coach and OC, and if Doug Marrone is your offensive line coach, I think you've got two really well-respected, accomplished guys who would know how to install a system and know how to coach an offense and run the offense if they had to, without any other help. I think right then and there you'd be good to go for next season and beyond."

Perry's Mailbag: More OC candidates for Patriots to consider

How would adding an offensive line coach impact Billy Yates' position in the organization? Yates was essentially the o-line coach last season.

Perry offered a solution.

"What you could do is you could essentially keep some of the titles for some of these guys," Perry explained. "Bill Yates' title all year was assistant offensive line coach. You could keep him in that role and that way he's not being demoted, but you're bringing in a very experienced offensive line coach to help continue Bill Yates' development. He's still relatively new to the gig.

"The Patriots have had so many offensive line coaches cycle through here. They've had basically -- if you include Bill Yates as the offensive line coach because, you're right, he essentially took over for Matt Patricia early in the regular season -- they've had five offensive line coaches in the last four years between Dante Scarnecchia, Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo and Matt Patricia/Bill Yates. That's five names. It's wild. Can you get somebody to just come in and stabilize the thing? And I think that's what Doug Marrone would do."

Marrone has six seasons of NFL head coaching experience (2013-14 with the Bills, and 2017-20 with the Jaguars). He was Alabama's offensive line coach in 2021 when O'Brien was the OC, and then he moved on to the New Orleans Saints and was their offensive line coach in 2022.

The Patriots offensive line did not play well throughout the 2022 campaign. Poor pass blocking and penalties were two of the major areas of concern. Bringing in a veteran coach with offensive line expertise like Marrone is one way to upgrade the offensive staff in a meaningful way for 2023.

Also in this episode: Curran and Perry discuss whether the Patriots are an OC away from being a competitive playoff team and debate the reasoning behind the coaching press release the team put out last week.