It’s increasingly looking like Bill O’Brien will indeed be returning to the Patriots this offseason.
After NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported over the weekend that O’Brien is a “strong option” for the Patriots, Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston added even more credence to that notion on Tuesday while appearing on WEEI with Andy Hart and Nick “Fitzy” Stevens.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported earlier this month that he believes there is interest on O’Brien’s end, and Curran said he now believes there is real interest on the Patriots’ end as well.
“Obviously the speculation continues to be that Bill O’Brien will be brought in,” Curran said. “Folks who are knowledgeable in this that I reached out to in the last couple of days who would have insight, I said, ‘Would Bill [Belichick] want Bill O’Brien?’ Because that question has really not been asked. There’s a perception that, ‘Hey, it’s a done deal. Of course Bill would want him back.’ But I asked and the individual said, ‘Absolutely.’
“And they said, ‘I’m surprised if it’s not in the works or a done deal already.’ So, to me, all the conversations that we’ve had about Bill O’Brien in the media and in the fanbase, behind the scenes there’s an expectation from people who know more than us and know the relationships better that, yeah, that’s probably going to happen.”
O’Brien previously spent five seasons on Belichick’s staff in New England from 2007-11, serving as offensive coordinator for the 2011 season and offensive play-caller in 2009 and 2010 as well. Since leaving, he spent two years as head coach at Penn State, seven as head coach of the Houston Texans, and the last two as offensive coordinator at Alabama.
O’Brien, who grew up in Andover, would be widely hailed as an upgrade over Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, who have struggled to get the Patriots’ offense on track this season in their own returns to Foxborough.