Sports Sunday

Could Bill O'Brien stay on as Patriots OC under Jerod Mayo in 2024?

The Patriots may opt for some continuity if they part ways with Belichick.

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How much change is coming to the New England Patriots' coaching staff this offseason? Maybe less than you think.

It's looking increasingly likely that the Patriots will part ways with head coach Bill Belichick after missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. But if Belichick does depart, does that mean offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is gone as well?

O'Brien firing wouldn't necessarily come as a surprise considering New England ranks dead last in the NFL in points per game (13.0) and has been a disaster on offense for much of the season. Yet Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer suggested Sunday that if linebackers coach Jerod Mayo succeeds Belichick as head coach, O'Brien might keep his job in 2024.

"I've been told that Jerod Mayo is very amenable to having Bill O'Brien as his offensive coordinator," Breer said on NBC Sports Boston's Sports Sunday. "On top of that, some of the stuff that I talked about last week -- (what) people inside the building said was missing from the offense, like the downfield concept you saw him running at Alabama, started to show up a little bit on Thursday night (against the Pittsburgh Steelers) with how Bailey Zappe was aggressive with the ball downfield.

"So maybe now you're gonna start to see some of the things that he's wanted to do since the start of the year, and we'll see a little bit more from him."

Breer reported last week that some in the Patriots organization feel as though Belichick has put some "restrictions" on O'Brien by not letting him run certain offensive concepts. The offense briefly came to life Thursday against the Steelers, however, as backup quarterback Bailey Zappe became the first Patriots QB to throw for three touchdowns in the first half since Tom Brady in 2018.

According to Breer, Thursday's (relative) offensive outburst might be more representative of what O'Brien can do if given more control of the offense -- which perhaps he'd get under a new head coach.

As for Mayo? Team owner Robert Kraft said himself that the former Patriots linebacker is a "strong candidate to be the heir apparent" to Belichick in New England. Mayo turned down interviews with other NFL teams last offseason to remain with the Patriots, which could be a sign that he's next in line if Belichick departs.

Moving on from Belichick would obviously be a massive change for the organization, but staying in-house at head coach and offensive coordinator could allow for some continuity entering 2024.

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