5:20pm: The Patriots have officially announced the hiring. The organization also revealed that they’ve hired Jeremy Springer as their new special teams coordinator.
Springer spent the past two seasons as the Rams assistant special teams coach, and he had previous ST coordinator gigs at Marshall and Arizona. Springer had a pair of interviews for the Patriots job, with the coach having a dinner with Patriots brass last week.
4:20pm: A thorough Patriots search to replace Bill O’Brien took place, and it will end with a recently dismissed coordinator seeing a responsibility increase. Alex Van Pelt will be the Pats’ choice as offensive coordinator, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets.
Fired after four seasons as the Browns’ non-play-calling OC, Van Pelt will move into position to call plays for the Patriots. He will become New England’s fourth OC in four seasons. After Josh McDaniels reclaimed the Pats’ play-calling reins for a 10-year period, his Las Vegas exit destabilized this situation. Van Pelt had interviewed for the Buccaneers and Raiders’ jobs, but he will end up with the AFC East club.
The team, which employed O’Brien and Matt Patricia as its primary play-callers over the past two seasons, will look to Van Pelt to offer more consistency. The Pats have now filled their OC and DC posts. With Jerod Mayo bringing a defensive background into his first chance as a head coach, the Van Pelt hire is naturally more important than the recent DeMarcus Covington promotion. After working as a Kevin Stefanski game-planning aide for four years, Van Pelt will pick up play-calling duties in Foxborough.
This hire comes at a rather important juncture for the franchise. The Patriots hold the No. 3 overall pick. Although this was long regarded as a draft that would begin with Caleb Williams and Drake Maye before a potential drop-off at quarterback, Heisman winner Jayden Daniels has made inroads toward being an early draftee. Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest ESPN mock draft has Daniels going off the board to Washington at No. 2, with Maye falling to New England at 3. Whichever passer the Pats end up with, it would be their top draft investment at the position since choosing Drew Bledsoe first overall in 1993.
Chosen seven rounds after Bledsoe in that 1993 draft, Van Pelt played quarterback in the NFL for 11 years. The 53-year-old assistant has primarily coached QBs during his time on the sidelines. Van Pelt was in place as Aaron Rodgers‘ position coach from 2014-17, which overlapped with the second of the ex-Packer great’s four MVP awards. This is now his third crack as an offensive coordinator. The longtime Bills backup QB received an early chance to call plays in Buffalo, back in 2009 under Dick Jauron. A Bills coaching change sent Van Pelt back to the position coach circuit, but the Browns moved him back to the coordinator tier in 2020.
The Browns made the decision to fire Van Pelt, running backs coach Stump Mitchell and tight ends coach T.C. McCartney. These ousters proved curious due to the play at certain positions. Cleveland received a boost from its Joe Flacco signing, with the recent Jets backup showing much better form than he displayed in New York. While Flacco could not lead the Browns past the Texans in the wild-card round, Stefanski and Van Pelt helped the aging QB morph from emergency late-season signing to Comeback Player of the Year finalist.
Van Pelt interviewed well in Tampa, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, potentially giving him options. The Bucs and Raiders will continue their respective searches. The Patriots are attempting to bounce back from a rough two-season stretch on offense. Mac Jones‘ value tanked in that span, going from Offensive Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2021 to a player demoted to the third-string spot by the end of his third seasons.
The Pats ranked 31st in points and 30th in total yardage under O’Brien, who left to become Ohio State’s offensive coordinator. The team will turn to Van Pelt (and likely a rookie QB) in an effort to change its fortunes on offense. This will be Van Pelt’s 19th season as an NFL assistant.
With Van Pelt now in the fold, the Patriots can start filling out the rest of their coaching staff. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports that the team is eyeing Andy Dickerson as their offensive line coach. Following a nine-year stint as the Rams assistant OL coach, Dickerson spent four years on the Seahawks staff, serving as the offensive run game coordinator and (later) the offensive line coach.