Sports Sunday

Breer: Patriots 'empowering' Jerod Mayo to choose his OC

Expect a 'wide open search' at offensive coordinator.

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The New England Patriots moved swiftly in replacing Bill Belichick with Jerod Mayo as their head coach. And Mayo's first order of business might be deciding who's running the offense.

Bill O'Brien was the offensive coordinator for an impotent Patriots offense that averaged just 13.9 points per game in 2023, tied for last in the NFL. While you could argue New England's struggles weren't all on O'Brien -- the team lacked talent across the board, and there were reports that Belichick didn't let O'Brien run the offense he wanted to -- a change at OC wouldn't be surprising given last season's results.

Speaking on NBC Sports Boston's Sports Sunday, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer suggested the role of offensive coordinator is up for grabs -- and that Mayo is expected to lead the search.

"I think there's going to be an open search for it," Breer said, as seen in the video above. "I think there's going to be a wide open search for an offensive coordinator. Bill O'Brien is going to be in the mix for it, but that is one that there's going to be an open search, like right away.

"There are going to be a few spots on the offensive staff where I think Jerod is going to look inside the organization and outside the organization. I think they (Patriots owner Robert Kraft and team president Jonathan Kraft) are empowering Jerod Mayo to make a call to go find an offensive coordinator."

That's a lot of faith to place in Mayo, who is entering just his fifth season in the NFL coaching ranks and hasn't held a title higher than linebackers coach. But the Krafts clearly think very highly of the 37-year-old former Patriots linebacker, so much so that the contract he signed last offseason included a provision that identified him as the team's next head coach.

So, who might Mayo choose as his offensive coordinator? Breer mentioned O'Brien could return in the role, while former Patriots OC Josh McDaniels could be "at the top of (Mayo's) list" if O'Brien goes elsewhere, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.

But what if both O'Brien and McDaniels pursue other opportunities, potentially following Belichick to his next coaching destination? Breer made the case for an interesting candidate: Los Angeles Rams tight ends coach Nick Caley.

"How about Nick Caley, who has background here, who just went and worked for (Rams head coach Sean) McVay for a year?" Breer said. "So now you have a guy who has the foundation of the Patriots offense but has also worked for Sean McVay."

Caley spent eight years on the Patriots' coaching staff from 2015 to 2022 and actually was a candidate for New England's OC jobs in both 2022 and 2023. When the Patriots settled on O'Brien in 2023, Caley left the team to join the Rams, where he worked for a bright offensive mind in McVay.

It's unclear whether Mayo would prefer a "fresh start" with Caley or someone else outside the organization, or if he'd choose familiarity with the likes of O'Brien or McDaniels. Either way, it sounds like the decision will be Mayo's to make.

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