Bill O’Brien sought a fresh start as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator, but Bill Belichick overruled him, leading to internal tensions within the coaching staff, according to reports.
Upon his return to the Patriots after ranking 26th in total offense the previous season, O’Brien aimed for a coaching overhaul. However, Belichick, influenced by owner Robert Kraft’s desire for change, retained Matt Patricia as the offensive play-caller and brought O’Brien back from Alabama.
League sources indicated that O’Brien had initially wanted to revamp the coaching staff entirely, but Belichick denied his request. The staffing situation led to a clear hierarchy, with O’Brien, his chosen assistants, and a limited hire, creating a perceived divide within the coaching team.
Frustration reportedly grew among O’Brien and the wide receivers and offensive line coaches before training camp. In response, O’Brien centralized the offense by holding more meetings for the entire offensive unit and reducing positional meetings.
The story also raised concerns about the integrity of the Patriots’ hiring process. O’Brien was reportedly the only candidate interviewed with coordinator experience, and three of the other interviewees had previously played for Belichick.
“According to league sources, some assistants came to believe O’Brien wanted to clean house and build his own offensive staff upon arriving in January, but Belichick denied him,” the Herald reported. “Belichick allowed one hire, [Will] Lawing, who replaced ex-tight ends coach Nick Caley. To onlookers, a clear hierarchy developed with O’Brien and his assistants: there was Lawing and assistant quarterbacks coach Evan Rothstein, then everyone else.”
As the regular season concludes, with the potential for it to be Belichick’s final game, the Patriots will host the New York Jets this Sunday. The reported internal dynamics suggest challenges and complexities within the coaching staff that may impact the team’s performance and future direction.