New England Patriots fans know that head coach/general manager Bill Belichick has issues staying out of his own way. The 71-year-old bench boss is one of the most stubborn men in the NFL and is known for his "my way or the highway" approach to coaching — whether for better or worse.
A perfect example of Belichick's mindset stems from the latest rumors coming out of New England. Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan and Doug Kyed reported on Thursday that the Patriots HC undermined offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien before the first game of the 2023 campaign was even played.
Patriots Rumors: Belichick Undermines O'Brien
According to Callahan and Kyed, Patriots owner Robert Kraft wanted to revamp the offense after the team averaged just 21.4 points (16th) and 314.6 total yards (26th) per game last season. Naturally, the first step towards realizing that goal was firing Matt Patricia – the team's primary playcaller in 2022 — and replacing him with O'Brien, who spent time on Belichick's staff from 2007 to 2011.
But instead of letting his new OC construct the staff that he wanted, Belichick allegedly vetoed O'Brien's request due to the former's preference "to keep Patricia and grow together." Instead of working on a compromise, Belichick only allowed BOB to add tight ends coach Will Lawing and that was it.
"To onlookers, a clear hierarchy developed with O’Brien and his assistants: there was [Will] Lawing and assistant quarterbacks coach Evan Rothstein, then everyone else."- Andrew Callahan and Doug Kyed
The report also adds that while O'Brien held more offensive meetings than the Patriots had in 2022, the number of "positional meetings became scarce" with each position's respective coach.
Well, Belichick's stubbornness and inability to let O'Brien do his job certainly cost the Patriots' offense a chance to bounce back this season. Heading into Week 18's showdown against the New York Jets, New England is averaging the fewest PPG and fourth-fewest yards per play in the league.
Time will tell if the Patriots can come back with a clean slate for the 2024 campaign. On one hand, Belichick could be coaching his final game with the franchise on Sunday. On the other, Callahan and Kyad state that he could return if he's willing to work with an assistant who handles personnel decisions, per NESN's Zack Cox.
O'Brien could be on his way out, too, but ownership may give him another chance — with or without Belichick — to see if he can turn things around with the right help.
At least there's nowhere but up from here, right? Right?
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