The New England Patriots almost certainly will find a new play-caller for the 2023 season after a lackluster year with Matt Patricia at the controls. Rumors have pointed toward Bill O'Brien being the man for the job, but what if the former Patriots offensive coordinator doesn't return?
Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times wrote about the possibility of O'Brien taking over as OC for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The move could entice legendary quarterback Tom Brady -- who played under O'Brien in New England -- to return to the Bucs in free agency.
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The MMQB's Albert Breer offered three names the Patriots could consider as a Plan B for their offensive coordinator position if O'Brien is off the table.
"I think the obvious name would be Chad O'Shea," Breer said. "Chad O'Shea's got some experience in that Shanahan offense. Working for Kevin Stefanski in Cleveland, he's their passing coordinator right now.
"I don't think things ended great between O'Shea and the Patriots, but that was the case with Brian Daboll 15 years ago and Daboll wound up coming back. So I think you can mend those faces. Chad O'Shea's a guy who's got a lot of background in the system, was the receivers coach forever. He'd be one name to take a look at."
O'Shea served as the Patriots' wide receivers coach from 2009 to 2018. He moved on from New England to join another former Bill Belichick assistant, Brian Flores, on the Miami Dolphins staff. He was fired after one season in Miami and joined Stefanski's staff in Cleveland in 2020.
Another option to replace Patricia is already on the Patriots' coaching staff.
"Nick Caley's another one that I've brought up pretty consistently," Breer added. "I know ownership likes him. He's the tight ends coach. That'd be an internal hire. But I think Caley's incredibly competent and has the respect of the locker room and ownership."
Caley has been on Belichick's staff since 2015 and spent the previous 10 years coaching at the collegiate level.
Breer saved the most interesting name for last.
"If you want to go completely off the board, here's one for you. The Patriots have done their research on Kliff Kingsbury," he said. "I don't know if Kliff Kingsbury is even going to be available, I don't know if Kliff Kingsbury's even going to want to coach if he's fired in Arizona, but I do think he's somebody the Patriots would look at as far as if you're looking at somebody who might be able to move things forward a little bit and has different ideas to inject into what you're doing.
"I know things haven't been perfect in Arizona, but one thing defensive coaches have told me consistently over the last couple of years is because it's so outside of the norm, Kingsbury's offense might be the most difficult to prepare for in the entire NFL. So that would be one name to put on your radar if the O'Brien thing doesn't happen."
Kingsbury is widely expected to be relieved of his duties as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals after a miserable 2022 season. The 43-year-old has history with Belichick as the former quarterback was selected by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
UPDATE (Monday, Jan. 9): The Cardinals indeed have fired Kingsbury, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
How the Patriots proceed with their coaching staff will be a top storyline during the 2023 offseason. They could also be forced to shake things up on the defensive side if Jerod Mayo leaves for a new opportunity, which is considered a real possibility.
For now, New England is focused on sneaking into the postseason. It can do so with a win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, or if both the Jets and Browns win their respective matchups.