Bill O'Brien is the new offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, and morale is high.
O'Brien seemed like the logical choice to run the Patriots' offense based on his familiarity with the team and with quarterback Mac Jones. Now that O'Brien is officially in the fold, he's getting some strong endorsements -- including one from his former tight end.
Retired tight end Rob Gronkowski overlapped with O'Brien for two seasons in New England -- in 2010 as a rookie when O'Brien was the quarterbacks coach and in 2011 when O'Brien was promoted to offensive coordinator -- and posted the best statistical season of his career in 2011 with O'Brien calling plays.
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Needless to say, Gronk is a big O'Brien fan.
"I love Bill O'Brien. I loved playing for him," Gronkowski said Wednesday on the "Up and Adams Show" with Kay Adams. "I love the energy that he brings to the table. He has that niche to get you to go out and play your best football, to get you fired up and to get you to want to go out on the field and get better every single day and make big plays. It was just a great time when he was here during those two seasons."
O'Brien has his work cut out for him in New England, where the Patriots ranked 26th in total offense and 32nd in red zone efficiency last season with Matt Patricia calling offensive plays. But Gronkowski believes the Andover, Mass., native is the perfect man for the job.
"His football knowledge is through the roof, and I believe that he's definitely going to restore the Patriot faithful on the offensive side of the ball," Gronkowski said of O'Brien. "He's going to put his players in the best position to make plays. He's going to come up with some creative ideas, and I think they're definitely going to improve as an offense tremendously under Bill O'Brien.
"That's who the Patriots had to get. They had to get Bill O'Brien. ... I hope they paid head coach money for him, because they definitely had to."
What Patriots fans need to know about new OC Bill O'Brien
Unlike Patricia, who called offensive plays for the first time in 2022, O'Brien comes with an extensive track record that includes two seasons as Penn State head coach, six-plus seasons as Houston Texans head coach and two seasons as Alabama's offensive coordinator.
It's much too early to declare the Patriots "back" based on the uncertainty of their roster entering NFL free agency. But as Gronkowski's former teammate, Devin McCourty, told our Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry on the latest Patriots Talk Podcast, O'Brien's hire at the very least should brighten the overall mood in New England and give players and fans alike some optimism that the team can return to playoff contention in 2023.