Ben McAdoo

Jonathan Kraft Heavily Involved In Patriots’ Draft Plans; Michael Penix Jr. On Radar

Patriots preparations for their previous 24 drafts featured no questions as to who ran the show. As the franchise pushed its Super Bowl count to 10 and championship number to six, it relied on Bill Belichick to make the call. While some memorable misses took place, the legendary HC certainly fared well in this role as the team regularly built stout defenses around Tom Brady.

This year, the Pats enter the draft with an unusual setup. Eliot Wolf is in place as the de facto GM, but the team is planning to conduct interviews after the draft. It would be quite odd — given the decision the team faces at No. 3 overall — if ownership would consider giving someone else final say post-draft after letting Wolf potentially choose a long-term QB option. Days away from the draft, a quarterback pick is indeed the expectation for the suddenly rebuilding squad.

As the Patriots consider a potential trajectory-altering pick at 3, another key voice has emerged alongside Wolf. Patriots president Jonathan Kraft is “heavily involved” in the team’s pre-draft decision-making process, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. The son of owner Robert Kraft, Jonathan has been with the organization since his father acquired it in the 1990s. While Russini adds Wolf is running the show, the younger Kraft’s involvement obviously generates questions.

Owners regularly intervene in draft decisions, though a clearly defined hierarchy — one that features football-ops personnel leading the way — is certainly the best path for an organization to take regarding high-stakes decisions. Jonathan Kraft playing a major role would mark a significant change for the Patriots, who obviously relied on Belichick for decades. Wolf’s opportunity coming with heavy ownership intervention would be an interesting start to his GM run — if that should indeed commence — with the Patriots would be interesting, as this is the second-generation personnel man’s first opportunity to lead a front office.

As for which way the Patriots are going at No. 3, signs point to them keeping the pick and drafting a quarterback. Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy have fans in the building, per’s Albert Breer, continuing a theme for a team that will probably see both the North Carolina and Michigan prospects on the board when it goes on the clock. The Pats brought a large contingent to Maye’s pro day. In addition to Wolf and Jerod Mayo, Breer adds OC Alex Van Pelt, senior offensive assistant Ben McAdoo, QBs coach T.C. McCartney and front office staffers Alonzo Highsmith, Matt Groh, Pat Stewart and Camren Williams also have input in this pivotal draft decision.

New England has also made it known it would be willing to trade the pick, but as of late last week, no offers strong enough are believed to have emerged. That said, Michael Penix Jr. fans reside in the organization. Penix is not expected to be a top-three pick, pointing to the Washington-developed southpaw being in play if the Pats pull the trigger on trading down. In fact, Breer adds the Patriots’ late Penix visit came about because they could be interested in nabbing him following a trade-down maneuver.

Some NFL personnel believe the Patriots will, in fact, trade down,’s Tony Pauline adds. If the Patriots move back, it adds a significant wrinkle to this year’s top five. But if the Vikings or Broncos — both closely connected to moving up for a passer — make a strong enough offer the Pats agree to slide out of the top 10, Pauline adds a belief around the NFL exists indicating the Pats would then select Penix in the middle of Round 1. Our Ely Allen detailed the former Indiana and Washington starter’s prospect profile recently.

The Vikings hold No. 11 overall; the Broncos sit at No. 12. Those spots could be notable, as the Raiders — who are believed to be interested in Penix — sit at No. 13. The Patriots taking this route would bring controversy, given their chances of bringing Maye or McCarthy to Foxborough at 3. But they would add at least a 2025 first-round pick (and almost definitely more) if they moved the pick to Minnesota or Denver. The Giants are also believed to be interested in moving up, with Maye-New York buzz increasing over the past several days. The Pats would not collect as much if they dropped from 3 to 6, however.

Jonathan Kraft is believed to have advised against his father moving on from Belichick after the 2022 season, but the team powered forward with that separation — amid a feud between the accomplished HC and Robert Kraft — after a 4-13 season. Whichever way the Patriots go in this year’s first round, it certainly seems like the younger Kraft will have a notable say in the matter.

Patriots Gave Bill O’Brien Chance To Stay; Latest On Team’s Coaching Staff

Bill O’Brien‘s second stint with the Patriots ended after one season. The Pats’ 2023 offensive coordinator has since committed to both Ohio State and Boston College, becoming the ACC program’s head coach after initially pledging to be the Buckeyes’ OC.

With O’Brien set to replace Jeff Hafley as Boston College’s HC, he not do so after being booted from the Patriots. The veteran coach said he was given an opportunity to stay on under Jerod Mayo. A number of Bill Belichick assistants are still in place, including Brian Belichick, but O’Brien is now back in the college ranks.

[RELATED: Patriots Promote DeMarcus Covington To DC]

I definitely had an opportunity to stay,” O’Brien said (via’s Mike Kadlick). “I thought it was really important for coach Mayo to hire his own staff. I came and worked for Bill Belichick, and I think it’s really important for Jerod to be able to hire his own staff. The Krafts were great about that, and I really appreciate that. And Ryan Day was awesome about offering me a job, so that’s why I made that decision.”

Robert Kraft played a key role in bringing O’Brien back to Foxborough. A rumor pegged Belichick as remaining interested in keeping Matt Patricia on as the Patriots’ de facto OC. But O’Brien — the Pats’ OC in 2011, closing out a multiyear play-calling stint with the team — brought extensive experience on the offensive side. This led Patricia to Philadelphia. O’Brien committed to Ohio State on Jan. 18. The Packers hired Hafley on Jan. 31. Days later, O’Brien agreed to come back to Boston.

A January report indicated the Pats were not planning to run it back with O’Brien as OC; he would have needed to vie for the job as part of a search. O’Brien took his name out of consideration early. After a thorough search, the Patriots ended up with ex-Browns OC Alex Van Pelt, who has one season of play-calling experience. But Van Pelt represents a new voice in a building still filled with Belichick assistants.

Mayo having only worked for the Patriots led to some concerns about his ability to fill out a staff, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes. This helps explain why Eliot Wolf, who is believed to be the team’s new front office boss, was involved in coaching searches and why a few ex-Packers assistants are part of Mayo’s first staff. Wolf was a regular presence in coaching interviews during this hiring period. He and Van Pelt overlapped as Packers staffers from 2012-17.

Ben McAdoo is another ex-Packers assistant who is now with the Patriots. The former Giants HC and Van Pelt worked together in Green Bay from 2012-13, a stay that ended with McAdoo as QBs coach and Van Pelt as running backs coach. After the Giants hired McAdoo as their OC in 2014, Van Pelt — a longtime NFL backup QB — shifted over to become Aaron Rodgers‘ position coach. While McAdoo will now work for Van Pelt, Volin adds he hold the title of senior offensive assistant in New England.

Additionally, the Patriots will split up their linebacking coach role. Dont’a Hightower will coach the team’s outside ‘backers, per Volin. Drew Wilkins is overseeing the ILBs. This will allow Hightower a smoother path into the coaching ranks. The standout Patriot has not held a full-time coaching job previously.

The Pats are also hiring Taylor Embree as their running backs coach, according to the Boston Herald’s Doug Kyed. Embree, 35, spent the past three years coaching the Jets’ running backs. The team dismissed the former Mike LaFleur hire earlier this offseason. The son of Dolphins TEs coach/ex-Colorado HC Jon Embree, Taylor had been a lower-level staffer under Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. The Jets gig marked the 35-year-old assistant’s first position coach role in the NFL.

Patriots tight ends coach Will Lawing is on track to follow O’Brien to Boston College,’s Pete Thamel tweets. This is not exactly surprising, as Lawing has worked with O’Brien for more than 10 years. Lawing followed O’Brien to Penn State, the Texans, Alabama and then the Patriots.

Patriots To Hire Ben McAdoo

Another high-profile name is set to join Jerod Mayo‘s initial Patriots staff. New England is hiring Ben McAdoo as an offensive assistant, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports.

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer – who initially reported the Patriots’ interestconfirms the deal is essentially in place. McAdoo will play a key role on offense alongside new OC Alex Van Pelt, who joined New England’s staff after his four-year run with the Browns came to an end this offseason. He and McAdoo previously overlapped in Green Bay, and the pair will now work alongside each other with the Patriots.

The latter was out of coaching in 2023, after his one-year stint as offensive coordinator of the Panthers. That campaign marked the end of Matt Rhule‘s head coaching tenure, and McAdoo was not connected to any OC openings in the 2023 hiring cycle. The 46-year-old nevertheless has experience in a number of roles, including assistant and positional titles before and after his time with the Giants.

McAdoo worked as New York’s OC from 2014-15 before being promoted to serve as the team’s head coach for the next two campaigns. An 11-5 record was followed up by a 2-10 mark in 2017, leading to his midseason dismissal. McAdoo moved to a QBs coach role with the Jaguars in 2020, followed by a one-year stint as a consultant with the Cowboys. That time set him up for his Carolina OC opportunity, but it comes as little surprise that his next NFL gig will not be at the coordinator level.

Van Pelt did not call plays during his time working under Kevin Stefanski, so pairing him with an experienced offensive mind in McAdoo is a logical step for the Patriots. New England will be looking to take a tangible step forward on offense in 2024, likely with a new face under center. McAdoo has a reputation for evaluating QB prospects, and the Patriots will be heavily invested in scouting that position with the No. 3 pick in April’s draft. It is not a lock the team adds a signal-caller with the top two prospects (Caleb Williams and Drake Maye) likely to be off the board at that point, but McAdoo will now be part of the staff which makes a decision on that front.

Plenty of questions remain given Mayo’s status as a rookie head coach and the state of the Patriots’ roster. His staff continues to come into shape, though, and McAdoo furthers the mix of outside coaches brought in to pair with internal candidates who were promoted to their new roles. His next opportunity to rebuild his stock will come with a transitioning New England team.

2023 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

As the head coaching carousel spun for several weeks, many teams made coordinator changes as well. Teams seeking new head coaches are conducting OC and DC searches, and a handful of other teams that did not make HC changes are also searching for top assistants.

This is a big year for offensive coordinator hires, with nearly half the league making changes. Here are the teams searching for new OCs and DCs. As new searches emerge, they will be added to the list.

Updated 3-1-23 (3:31pm CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals 

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Greg Roman)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Ben McAdoo)

  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach, (Rams): Hired
  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Kellen Moore)

  • Brian Angelichio, tight ends coach (Vikings): Interviewed 2/2
  • Thomas Brown, tight ends coach (Rams): Interviewed
  • Jeff Nixon, running backs coach (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Brian Schottenheimer, offensive consultant (Cowboys): Hired

Denver Broncos (Out: Justin Outten)

Houston Texans (Out: Pep Hamilton)

Indianapolis Colts (Out: Parks Frazier)

  • Jim Bob Cooter, passing-game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Tee Martin, wide receivers coach (Ravens): Interview requested

Kansas City Chiefs (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Matt Nagy, quarterbacks coach (Chiefs): Hired

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Joe Lombardi)

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Liam Coen)

New York Jets (Out: Mike LaFleur)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Shane Steichen)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Byron Leftwich)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Todd Downing)

Washington Commanders (Out: Scott Turner)

Defensive Coordinators

Arizona Cardinals (Out: Vance Joseph)

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dean Pees)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Leslie Frazier)

Carolina Panthers (Out: Al Holcomb)

  • Ejiro Evero, former defensive coordinator (Broncos): Hired
  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): Interviewed
  • Marquand Manuel, safeties coach (Jets): Interviewed
  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator (Saints): Interviewed

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans 

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Renaldo Hill)

  • Derrick Ansley, defensive backs coach (Chargers): Promoted
  • Doug Belk, defensive coordinator (Houston): Interviewed
  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Interviewed

Miami Dolphins (Out: Josh Boyer)

Minnesota Vikings (Out: Ed Donatell)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Ryan Nielsen, Kris Richard)

  • Joe Woods, former defensive coordinator (Browns): Hired

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Jonathan Gannon)

San Francisco 49ers (Out: DeMeco Ryans)

  • Vic Fangio, former head coach (Broncos): On radar
  • Chris Harris, defensive backs coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/31
  • Kris Kocurek, defensive line coach (49ers): On radar
  • Steve Wilks, former interim head coach (Panthers): Hired

“Increasing Communication Issues” Between Panthers HC Matt Rhule, OC Ben McAdoo

The Panthers continue to struggle, and we’re now learning of some inner turmoil within the locker room. League sources tell Aaron Wilson of that “there have been increasing communication issues” between head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

[RELATED: Latest On Panthers HC Matt Rhule’s Job Status]

Considering the Panthers’ offensive struggles, it’s not a surprise that eyes have shifted to McAdoo. The former Giants head coach joined Carolina’s staff this offseason as offensive coordinator, replacing Joe Brady. The team’s QB situation was uncertain through much of the offseason, with the organization ultimately settling on Baker Mayfield to take over for Sam Darnold under center. Despite the underwhelming options at quarterback, the Panthers still had some top playmakers in running back Christian McCaffrey and wideout DJ Moore.

Well, things haven’t necessarily gone as planned. Through four weeks, the Panthers rank last in the NFL in plays per game (53.5) and third-down conversion rate (25.5 percent), two stats that don’t put the coaching staff in the best light. So, while McAdoo “attempts to direct an offense that is struggling” and “is working to fix what appears to be a dire situation,” he’s apparently receiving conflicting information or directives from his head coach.

“Well, when you look at it, I was brought in here to make an impact, right? And it hasn’t happened yet,” McAdoo said recently (via Wilson). “Now, that doesn’t mean we’re discouraged. We’re four games in, right? So, we got another game this week, and we’re excited at the opportunity we have this week, and we have a tremendous opponent coming in here this week.”

Things aren’t going to get easier for the Panthers this weekend, as the team faces off against a 49ers defense that’s allowed the fewest points per game this season.

Latest On Panthers, Sam Darnold

Just over one week from the start of the draft, the Panthers remain one of the teams most connected with selecting a quarterback. When speaking to the media yesterday, though, new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo stated (at least temporarily) that the team already has its No. 1 signal-caller. 

[RELATED: Latest On Panthers’ Draft Plans]

As noted by ESPN’s David Newton, McAdoo was quick to affirm Sam Darnold‘s status as the team’s starter, including his presence as a factor in taking his new role. Moments later, however, he clarified that “the way it is in the building right now, Sam is our starting quarterback”. The Panthers currently only have Darnold and P.J. Walker on the roster, but should have their pick of this year’s class with the sixth-overall selection.

Knowing that, McAdoo quickly added, “announcing the starting quarterback here I just put my foot in my mouth. That wasn’t something I should have said.” Carolina represents one of the most intriguing and important teams in next week’s draft, given their position on the board and dual need for an offensive tackle and (at least in the eyes of many) a quarterback with a higher ceiling than Darnold.

In his first season after being traded by the Jets, the 24-year-old completed less than 60% of his passes and threw more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (nine). Not surprisingly, then, the Panthers have done extensive work on the draft’s top QBs, leading many to expect them to select either Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis with their top pick. Failing that, they could be involved in the remaining trade market; they were recently reported to have the inside track to acquire Baker Mayfield, for instance.

This time of year, of course, is rife with public statements being overvalued or misinterpreted. Still, McAdoo’s remarks add even more intrigue to the team’s ultimate draft decision, which will have a sizeable domino effect on not only the Panthers but the rest of the QB board.

Panthers, Titans Coaching Updates

There’s been a few updates with respect to the changes in the Panthers’ and Titans’ coaching staffs. The largest change so far, of course, is the hiring of Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator for Carolina. On Monday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed that the team has made that hire official (Twitter link). 

The 44-year-old comes in with a successful background at the OC level, having helped the Giants to top-ten rankings in 2014 and 2015. That earned him the head coaching position in New York, although it certainly didn’t end the way he would have wanted. Still, there are high hopes he can turn around a Panthers offense that struggled mightily in 2021, leading to the mid-season firing of Joe Brady.

Meanwhile, Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk reported that Carolina is conducting a second interview with Chris Tabor for the special teams coordinator vacancy. The Panthers fired Chase Blackburn earlier this month, and already met with Tabor, who has previously been a ST coordinator with the Browns and Bears. Unlike the first interview, this one will take place in person. Alper notes that the Panthers had offered the job to current Giants ST coordinator Thomas McGaughey, “but the two sides could not agree on a contract”.

As for the Titans, the disappointing loss on Saturday has led to at least four changes on their staff. As Sport Illustrated’s John Glennon tweets, the coaches being let go include: inside linebackers coach Jim Haslett, assistant defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze, assistant ST coach Matt Edwards and assistant strength and conditioning coach Mondray Gee. Tennessee finished the year atop the AFC, but lost in their opening playoff game for the second straight season.


Panthers To Hire Ben McAdoo As OC

The Panthers are expected to hire former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo as their offensive coordinator (Twitter link via’s Ian Rapoport). The two sides are still finalizing the contract, but it sounds like it’ll become official in the coming days. 

[RELATED: Pep Hamilton Passes On Panthers]

McAdoo, 44, worked under Jay Gruden with the Jaguars in 2020, coaching quarterbacks for that 1-15 team. Gruden also interviewed for this position, but the Panthers ultimately went for McAdoo, who is best known for his lackluster two-season term as the Giants’ head coach. He’ll replace Joe Brady, who was fired in December. At the time, the Panthers ranked just 28th in total offense under the 32-year-old.

Before the turmoil and the mid-season firing, McAdoo coached his 2016 squad to an 11-5 record and guided them to their first playoff berth in five years. And, previous to that, McAdoo made his name as Tom Coughlin‘s OC, when the Giants finished out with the No. 10 and No. 8 ranked offenses in 2014 and 2015.

McAdoo still has a ways to go before he can climb his way back into HC consideration, but the Panthers are enthusiastic about what he can do for their offense in 2022.

Panthers Add Jay Gruden, Ben McAdoo To OC Interview List; Chip Kelly Briefly On Radar

After canning Joe Brady late in his second season as Panthers OC, Matt Rhule said he sought an experienced play-caller to replace him. Two former head coaches are now officially in the running.

Jay Gruden loomed on Carolina’s wish list for over a week, but the former Washington HC has since spoken with Rhule about the job, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Former Giants HC Ben McAdoo also met with the Panthers about the job, doing so Tuesday, per Person (on Twitter).

Gruden, 54, did not coach in 2021, with the Jaguars moving on from him as OC after hiring Urban Meyer. But the six-season Washington HC spent 10 seasons as an NFL play-caller, initially running the Bengals’ offense in the early 2010s. Four of those produced playoff berths, while Kirk Cousins set franchise single-season records under Gruden as well.

McAdoo, 44, worked under Gruden with the Jaguars in 2020, coaching quarterbacks for that 1-15 team. He is obviously better known for his two-season stint as Giants head coach. That ended badly, with an in-season firing, but McAdoo did coach the 2016 Giants to an 11-5 record and the team’s first playoff berth in five years. McAdoo spent the previous two years as Giants OC under Tom Coughlin.

Additionally, Chip Kelly resurfaced as a potential option. Rhule sought to see if the current UCLA coach was interested, Mike Garafolo of tweets, but Kelly instead signed an extension to stay with the Bruins. Kelly has not coached in the NFL since his one-and-done 2016 season in San Francisco.

The Panthers have now interviewed seven coaches — Gruden, McAdoo, Luke Getsy, Tim KellyMike Groh, Scottie Montgomery and Klint Kubiak — f0r their OC job.

This Date In Transactions History: Giants Fire Ben McAdoo, Jerry Reese

The Giants cleaned house on this date in 2017. Not willing to wait until the offseason, the Giants fired head coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese in one fell swoop.

[RELATED: Giants To Fire Dave Gettleman?]

It’s not uncommon to see head coaches and GMs canned on the same day, but it’s somewhat rare to see it happen during the season. Still, the Giants were 2-10, and owner John Mara‘s mind was made up.

This season has been incredibly disappointing for the organization and our fans, and while it would be ideal to make these kinds of decisions at the conclusion of the season, we simply felt now is the time to prepare for a fresh start,”Mara said in a statement. “I have great respect for both Jerry and Ben. Jerry has worked tirelessly for this franchise for 23 years. He has always communicated in a straight forward and honest manner.”

The Giants enjoyed great success during Reese’s tenure – including two Super Bowl championships – but became more and more reluctant to move up draft day towards the end of his run. In ’17, his final draft in New York, he failed to strengthen the Giants’ Swiss cheese offensive line even though it was one of the team’s most glaring and longstanding needs. So, after a total of 23 years with the Giants organization, he was out.

Ditto for McAdoo, once an NFL darling for his work as Aaron Rodgers‘ position coach. He joined the Giants in 2014 as Tom Coughlin‘s offensive coordinator. Two years later, he was installed as the head coach. At the time, the Giants felt that they were choosing the coach best suited to guide Manning. They also felt compelled to promote him since other clubs were ready to poach him. Year One went well enough – his Giants finished 11-5 before Rodgers & Co. sent them packing in the playoffs. Less than a year later, he was out with a combined 13-15 record.

McAdoo is now with the Cowboys as a consultant while Reese is out of the NFL. Meanwhile, history may repeat itself in New Jersey. The Giants are reportedly set to part ways with Reese’s replacement, Dave Gettleman his aggressiveness has not yielded a better offensive line. The team also fired OC Jason Garrett recently and it’s not a certainty that second-year head coach Joe Judge will return in 2022.