New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has been named the next coach of Penn State. O’Brien’s contract was set to expire at the end of the season for the Patriots.
O’Brien, who was in his third year calling the plays for the Patriots’ offense, has overseen one of the NFL’s best offenses in his time as playcaller. O’Brien’s stock has risen over his time since arriving in New England in 2007 – peaking this year in his first as the official offensive coordinator. The hire should not affect O’Brien’s commitment to the Patriots in the playoffs.
Going forward it will be interesting to see how Bill Belichick decides to go about replaces O’Brien. The most likely course, which he took after replacing Josh McDaniels following the 2008 season, is to forgo naming an official offensive coordinator and instead allow another assistant to call the plays with Belichick exerting power to overrule when he sees fit. The return of McDaniels could also be in play if he doesn’t return to St. Louis after the firing of head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
If Belichick is unable to completely replace O’Brien and has to spend more time coaching offensively next season, it may require him to name a new defensive coordinator next year. The Patriots have not had an official defensive coordinator since Dean Pees left following the 2009 season. Since that time, Belichick has been in control of the keys defensively. Should Belichick hand them over, two names to keep an eye on would be safeties coach Matt Patricia and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson.
photo courtesy of patriots.com