Bill O'Brien

Pro Football Focus' offensive coordinator rankings will excite Patriots fans

Bill O'Brien is seen as a major upgrade to the Patriots' offensive coaching staff.

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The New England Patriots' offense was a mess last season.

The passing attack struggled mightily. Starting quarterback Mac Jones missed three games due to injury and didn't meet expectations when healthy. The offensive line struggled with pass protection and penalties. New England also ranked 27th in third-down conversion percentage and dead last (32nd) in red zone percentage. Kendrick Bourne's usage was puzzling, especially after the veteran wide receiver's strong 2021 debut season in Foxboro. Second-year running back Rhamondre Stevenson was one of the few bright spots of the group.

Coaching also was a major reason for the Patriots' lack of offensive success. De facto offensive coordinator and play-caller Matt Patricia and quarterbacks coach Joe Judge did a poor job.

There is hope for this unit, though. Bill O'Brien has returned to Foxboro to take over as the new OC and quarterbacks coach. He brings a wealth of experience and success at both the pro and college levels. He also has previous experience as the Patriots offensive coordinator from the 2011 season, which ended in a Super Bowl appearance.

Just how much of an upgrade is O'Brien?

Well, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus recently unveiled his ranking of the best offensive coordinators, and O'Brien came in at No. 3. The only OCs ahead of him are Ben Johnson of the Detroit Lions and Kellen Moore of the Los Angeles Chargers.

"Bill O’Brien the coach is excellent. He was undone somewhat by Bill O’Brien the personnel man, and so his tenure in Houston is, perhaps, unfairly remembered, but the Patriots secured a major upgrade at offensive coordinator this offseason," Monson wrote in his analysis. "O’Brien has had success in the NFL in multiple stops, including New England, and was coaching an outstanding Alabama offense in college before his return to the professional ranks.

"While the perception about O’Brien right now may be unfairly tainted by his stint as a head coach, it’s possible that it gets overly inflated this season by virtue of how good he might look in comparison to the disastrous plan that went before him. Either way, in a league low on proven commodities, O’Brien deserves a high ranking."

The Patriots had a really good defense last season, and that unit could be even better in 2023 after New England spent its first three picks in the 2023 NFL Draft bolstering that side of the ball, including first-round cornerback Christian Gonzalez.

Therefore, if the Patriots can make meaningful strides offensively, they should be in the mix for a wild card playoff spot in the AFC next season. Getting Jones back on track figures to be the top priority for O'Brien.

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