Now in post-Bill Belichick life, the New England Patriots and new head coach Jerod Mayo are picking up the pieces in an attempt to resurface following a 4-13 season.
On Friday, Ohio State announced that New England's 2023 offensive coordinator, Bill O'Brien, would be joining the program as the Buckeyes' OC. With O'Brien's departure, Mayo has his first big hole to fill on his coaching staff.
Coming off of an abysmal season in which they ranked among the NFL's worst in nearly every significant offensive category, upgrading on offense should rank as the Patriots' top offseason priority.
The Patriots also possess the third overall pick in this April's upcoming draft, which they will almost certainly use to select an offensive player (with a significant chance that player is a quarterback). Mayo even all but came out and said so when speaking after his introductory press conference.
Even if New England doesn't take a QB at three, it is unfathomable that they won't take one in the first three rounds. It will be imperative to pair the rookie quarterback with a competent offensive coordinator to foster their development into the franchise quarterback that the team so desperately craves.
Considering Mayo's background exclusively on the defensive side of the ball, his pick at offensive coordinator carries even more importance, as that coach will likely dominate responsibilities in that phase of the game.
The decision at offensive coordinator is the first major one of the Jerod Mayo era. Here are the three leading candidates to call New England's offensive plays next season.
3. Shane Waldron
The only current offensive coordinator on this list, Shane Waldron has called plays for the Seattle Seahawks over the last three seasons. Prior to Seattle, Waldron was the Los Angeles Rams' passing game coordinator under noted offensive guru Sean McVay for three seasons.
Waldron has significant New England ties. The Oregon native played college football at Tufts University from 1999-2002 and spent five seasons with the Patriots across two stints in various capacities, collecting Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX rings. He also spent a year with the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League in 2010, a season at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Mass., and four seasons with the UMass Minutemen program.
Waldron has played a huge role in quarterback Geno Smith's rejuvenation in Seattle, and his ability to maximize potential at the QB position is a feather in his cap given the expectation that New England will use a high pick on a quarterback (or could he even somehow revive Mac Jones' career?)
Although Waldron isn't looking for employment, Pete Carroll's retirement in Seattle might add a sprinkle of uncertainty to that situation. If the Seahawks ultimately hire offensive-minded head coach such as Ben Johnson or Frank Smith, the new HC could demand play-calling duties.
Waldron could present a great balance of past Patriots' ties while also injecting the new-school Shanahan/McVay offense that New England appears to need to modernize into.
Could a Waldron return to New England help pump some life into a lifeless Patriots' offense?