Patriots Notes: Vrabel, Klemm, Onwenu, Boutte

With the Patriots in the midst of their worst season in decades, there’s been plenty of speculation regarding Bill Belichick‘s future in New England. If either Belichick or the organization decides to move on, it’s been assumed that de facto defensive coordinator Jerod Mayo would take over as head coach.

However, there are some whispers that Patriots brass could actually look towards another former linebacker to succeed Belichick. According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, there are “definitely people” within the Patriots organization who would be receptive to a Mike Vrabel hiring. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe previously described a Vrabel pursuit as a “home run” option for the organization.

Of course, if the Patriots were interested in hiring Vrabel, they’d have to convince the Titans to let go of their head coach. Vrabel signed an extension with the organization in 2022 and is presumably under contract for at least a few more years. If the Titans get a hint that the Patriots will make a serious pursuit, there’s a good chance they’ll try to grab some compensation from New England.

On the flip side, the Patriots could just wait for the Titans to make a change. The Titans may finish with their second-straight losing season, and Vrabel hasn’t won a playoff game since the team’s 2019 run. Ownership may decide to pull the plug on their coaching staff, much like they did with GM Jon Robinson last December.

More notes out of New England…

  • Patriots offensive line coach Adrian Klemm is expected to be away from the team “for a little while” while dealing with a personal health issue, Belichick told reporters (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss). The former Patriots second-round pick joined New England’s coaching staff this past offseason after having spent the 2022 campaign as Oregon’s associate head coach/OL coach. Assistant OL coach Billy Yates will likely take on more responsibility while Klemm is out.
  • Michael Onwenu has bounced around the offensive line throughout his career. After excelling at right tackle as a rookie, the sixth-round pick was moved to left guard during his sophomore season. He was switched to right guard in 2022 and went on to earn Pro Bowl honors, and he stuck at the position to begin the 2023 season. However, recent injuries and OL inconsistencies have forced Onwenu back to RT, and Belichick told reporters that the organization is comfortable keeping the fourth-year player at the position (per Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald).
  • Sixth-round rookie WR Kayshon Boutte hasn’t been active since he played 55 snaps in Week 1. Following Kendrick Bourne‘s season-ending injury, Boutte was expected to see a larger role on offense, but he proceeded to be inactive in Week 9 against the Commanders.There’s been some speculation that the rookie could be in Belichick’s doghouse after failing to get a second foot down on a crucial drive in Week 1, but Boutte dismissed that notion. “I don’t feel like I’m in the doghouse,” he said (via Reiss). “Looking back at the first game, I know that I can get open. I know how to create separation. That’s why I’m comfortable with myself.”
  • We learned earlier today that cornerback J.C. Jackson won’t be traveling to Germany for New England’s matchup against the Colts this weekend.
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