3 Head Coach Candidates the Patriots Must Avoid in 2024

Dec 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches
Dec 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien's time as head coach of the Houston Texans is a bit underappreciated, as he made the playoffs in four of his six full seasons in Houston. AFC South wasn't exactly a gauntlet during that time frame, and O'Brien's ability to only pull two playoff wins out of those appearances is a testament to that.

When O'Brien was brought in this offseason to take over the offensive coordinator duties from Matt Patricia (a defensive coordinator), there was a widespread belief that he was brought in as part of an ultimatum given by Robert Kraft.

Between O'Brien's extensive experience on offense and the Alabama connection between him and Jones, the easy inference would be that the young quarterback could return to the flashes that he showed during his rookie season. Jones would reclaim his status as a franchise quarterback, the offense would be rejuvenated, and last season's abhorrently dysfunctional plan to have a defensive coach and special teams coach running the offense would be all but forgotten.

Only problem is, that presumption has fallen quite short of reality. Jones has regressed to such an extent that he appears to be on his way out of New England and there are greater questions about his ability to even hold an NFL roster spot. The offense is the worst in the NFL in terms of points per game and bottom-five in yards per game. Forget head coaching duties, O'Brien might not have done well enough to even retain offensive play calling duties in 2024.

In O'Brien's defense, Belichick has asked him to make chicken salad out of chicken feathers on offense. Rookie sixth-round wideout DeMario Douglas has been arguably the team's most impressive offensive player, and the team has been forced to use the most offensive line combinations of any team in the league this season. Receiver Kendrick Bourne flashed at times, but he missed the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in Week 8.

Another thought to keep in mind: if the Patriots do ultimately decide to go with an offensive mind (e.g. Ben Johnson), where would O'Brien fit in? Johnson would almost certainly demand play calling duties and O'Brien could easily be kicked to the curb. Like so many in Foxborough, O'Brien's future with the franchise is equivocal.