Bill O’Brien

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.

2024 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker

After a crowded carousel previously stopped, the 49ers opened their defensive coordinator position. Here is how the NFC champions’ search looks:

Updated 3-2-24 (10:00am CT)

Offensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Dave Ragone)

Buffalo Bills (Out: Ken Dorsey)

  • Joe Brady, interim offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (Bills): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed

Carolina Panthers (Out: Thomas Brown)

  • Marcus Brady, senior offensive assistant (Eagles): Interview requested
  • Brad Idzik, wide receivers coach (Buccaneers): Hired

Chicago Bears (Out: Luke Getsy)

Cincinnati Bengals (Out: Brian Callahan)

  • Andy Dickerson, offensive line coach (Seahawks): To interview
  • Dan Pitcher, quarterbacks coach (Bengals): Promoted

Cleveland Browns (Out: Alex Van Pelt)

Las Vegas Raiders (Out: Mick Lombardi)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Kellen Moore)

New England Patriots (Out: Bill O’Brien)

New Orleans Saints (Out: Pete Carmichael)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Brian Johnson)

  • Jerrod Johnson, quarterbacks coach (Texans): Interviewed
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Interviewed 1/23
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator (Chargers): Hired

Pittsburgh Steelers (Out: Matt Canada)

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Shane Waldron)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Out: Dave Canales)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Tim Kelly)

  • Nick Holz, passing game coordinator (Jaguars): Hired
  • Thad Lewis, quarterbacks coach (Buccaneers): Interviewed
  • Eric Studesville, associate head coach/running backs coach (Dolphins): Interview requested

Washington Commanders (Out: Eric Bieniemy)

  • Chip Kelly, former head coach (Eagles/49ers): On team’s radar
  • Kliff Kingsbury, senior offensive analyst (USC): Hired

Defensive Coordinators

Atlanta Falcons (Out: Ryan Nielsen)

Baltimore Ravens (Out: Mike Macdonald)

  • Zach Orr, inside linebackers coach (Ravens): Promoted

Buffalo Bills

  • Bobby Babich, linebackers coach (Bills): Promoted
  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Sean Desai, former defensive coordinator (Eagles): To interview

Chicago Bears (Out: Alan Williams)

  • Joe Barry, former defensive coordinator (Packers): To interview 1/27
  • Chris Harris, secondary coach (Titans): To interview
  • Eric Washington, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Bills): Hired
  • Terrell Williams, assistant head coach/defensive line coach (Titans): To interview

Dallas Cowboys (Out: Dan Quinn)

Green Bay Packers (Out: Joe Barry)

Jacksonville Jaguars (Out: Mike Caldwell)

Los Angeles Chargers (Out: Derrick Ansley)

  • Jesse Minter, defensive coordinator (Michigan): Hired

Los Angeles Rams (Out: Raheem Morris)

Miami Dolphins (Out: Vic Fangio)

New England Patriots

  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach (Patriots): Promoted
  • Michael Hodges, linebackers coach (Saints): To interview
  • Tem Lukabu, outside linebackers coach (Panthers): To interview
  • Christian Parker, defensive backs coach (Broncos): Interviewed

New York Giants (Out: Don Martindale)

Philadelphia Eagles (Out: Sean Desai)

  • Mike Caldwell, former defensive coordinator (Jaguars): Interviewed
  • Vic Fangio, former defensive coordinator (Dolphins): Hired
  • Ron Rivera, former head coach (Commanders): Interviewed 1/22

San Francisco 49ers (Out: Steve Wilks)

  • Gerald Alexander, safeties coach (Raiders): Interviewed 3/1
  • Daniel Bullocks, defensive backs coach (49ers): Interviewed 2/28
  • David Merritt, defensive backs coach (Chiefs): To interview
  • Nick Sorensen, defensive passing game specialist (49ers): Promoted
  • Brandon Staley, former head coach (Chargers): Interviewed

Seattle Seahawks (Out: Clint Hurtt)

Tennessee Titans (Out: Shane Bowen)

  • Brandon Lynch, cornerbacks coach (Browns): Interviewed 1/30
  • Dennard Wilson, defensive backs coach (Ravens): Hired

Washington Commanders (Out: Jack Del Rio)

  • Joe Cullen, defensive line coach (Chiefs): Considered a candidate
  • Joe Whitt, defensive backs coach (Cowboys): Hired

Washington To Hire Patriots’ Steve Belichick As Defensive Coordinator

Jerod Mayo was interested in retaining Steve Belichick on his first Patriots staff, but that will not happen. The interview Belichick took for a college position will lead to a Foxborough exit.

The second-generation NFL coach is leaving the Patriots to become the defensive coordinator at the University of Washington, per’s Matt Zenitz. Field Yates of indicates Belichick has since accepted the Huskies’ offer. This will mark a significant change for Steve Belichick, but given the developments with his father and the Patriots, it was not too difficult to predict he would also be leaving.

Steve Belichick, 36, worked as a defensive assistant under Bill Belichick for 12 seasons. While his tie to the all-time coaching great undoubtedly aided this rise, Bill entrusted Steve as his primary defensive play-caller over the past four seasons. The Patriots did not employ a traditional defensive coordinator following Matt Patricia‘s 2018 exit, but Mayo and Brian Flores were viewed as the top assistants on that side of the ball. Steve Belichick, however, played a major role during the 2020s.

Moving from the defensive assistant level to the safeties coach position in 2016, Steve coached the Pats’ outside linebackers from 2020-23. Matt Judon and Josh Uche delivered productive seasons during that span, though the Pats were not able to increase Steve Belichick’s ring count from three to four in the ’20s. Mayo offered Steve and Brian Belichick, who joined the staff in 2017 and has been the team’s safeties coach for the past four years, jobs on his 2024 staff. It is not yet known how Brian will proceed, but Steve will land his first coordinator job.

Bill Belichick never coached in the college ranks, but his father spent decades on the Navy staff. The Huskies hired Jedd Fisch as HC to replace new Alabama HC Kalen DeBoer; Fisch was the Patriots’ quarterbacks coach in 2020. The Huskies are also hiring Patriots running backs coach Vinnie Sunseri to help out in the secondary, Yates adds. Sunseri, 32, has been with the Pats since 2020; he spent the past three seasons as their RBs coach but initially joined Bill Belichick’s staff as a defensive assistant.

This all comes as the NFL coaching carousel came to a stop with Bill Belichick without a job. The six-time Super Bowl-winning HC was planning to be selective, though teams were also leery of Belichick and the power he would want; only two — the Falcons and Commanders — talked to him about their HC vacancies. and it should not be expected he will join a team as an assistant. While Belichick has been an NFL staffer in every season since 1975, he has not worked as a coordinator since 1999. Bill, 71, is not planning to retire; a 2025 re-emergence — in what could be his last shot to land a third NFL HC gig — will be on the radar.

Additionally, the Patriots are hiring Packers defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery to work in the same capacity, according to’s Rob Demovsky. A Packers assistant since 2015, Montgomery worked under Dom Capers, Mike Pettine and Joe Barry. The Packers brought Montgomery up from the college ranks; he worked as a college D-line assistant from 2006-14. Montgomery, 44, will replace DeMarcus Covington, whom the Patriots moved into the DC role.

Circling back to the college ranks, two-time Patriots OC Bill O’Brien will make a rather pivotal change. After leaving the Pats to become Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, O’Brien is moving close to a deal to become Boston College’s next head coach, Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald reports. Prior to the Patriots hiring a new OC (Alex Van Pelt), O’Brien bolted for the Ohio State gig. The Packers’ decision to hire ex-Boston College HC Jeff Hafley as DC looks set to produce a ripple effect.

Coaching Notes: Giants, O’Brien, Panthers

We’ve got another candidate for the Giants ST coordinator job. According to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, the Giants interviewed Jets assistant special teams coach Michael Ghobrial for the position.

Ghobrial has been with the Jets since 2021, working alongside Brant Boyer and Leon Washington. Prior to his stint in New York, the coach served as a special teams coordinator in the college ranks, spending time with Washington State, Hawai’i, and Tarleton State.

The Giants have been forced to pivot to assistant ST coordinator to replace Thomas McGaughey. The team was denied interviews with ST coordinators like Marquice Williams (Falcons), Chris Tabor (Panthers), and Ryan Ficken (Chargers), although Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes that the Giants could revisit their pursuit of Williams since Atlanta is no longer blocking interviews.

49ers assistant special teams coach Matt Harper and Bears assistant special teams coach Carlos Polk have reportedly interviewed for the job, while Seahawks special teams coordinator Larry Izzo has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.

More coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • Speaking of Thomas McGaughey, the former Giants ST coordinator is interviewing for the same job with the Patriots, according to Raanan. The veteran coach spent the past six seasons as the Giants special teams coordinator, serving on three different coaching staffs. McGaughey previously had stints as the ST coordinator with the Panthers, 49ers, and Jets.
  • While the Patriots have and will continue to consider a number of in-house options for both coaching and front office roles, one of their coordinators won’t be sticking around. We heard yesterday that Bill O’Brien was heading to Ohio State as their offensive coordinator, a somewhat surprising development considering the organization’s reliance on continuity in a post-Bill Belichick era. However, as Albert Breer of writes, the Patriots always intended to conduct a “full search” for a new offensive coordinator. This meant O’Brien wasn’t necessarily eschewing the New England opportunity; rather, he opted for the definitive offer at Ohio State vs. the potential offer with the Patriots.
  • As our 2024 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker shows, four of the 12 candidates for the Panthers HC job have defensive backgrounds. While the organization is certainly considering these defensive-minded candidates, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the Panthers still prefer to hire an offensive-minded coach, per ESPN’s David Newton. The belief is that an offensive coach would be an ideal choice to help with the development of quarterback Bryce Young.

Ohio State To Hire Bill O’Brien As OC

Bill O’Brien brings considerable familiarity with Jerod Mayo, having coached alongside him in 2023 and being on Patriots staffs when the Bill Belichick successor was in place as a linebacker. But the two will not work together in 2024.

Ohio State will bring in O’Brien as its offensive coordinator,’s Pete Thamel reports. Wrapping O’Brien’s second Patriots OC stint at one season, this will bring the 54-year-old assistant back to the college ranks and the Big Ten. O’Brien coached at Penn State before becoming the Texans’ HC and was Alabama’s OC between his Houston firing and most recent New England trip.

Robert Kraft helped bring O’Brien back to Foxborough last year, putting an end to Belichick’s bizarre Matt Patricia experiment. Patricia spent the 2022 season as the Pats’ primary play-caller, and while that effort puzzled most and led to Mac Jones‘ freefall beginning, Belichick wanted to keep Patricia for a second season in the role. Upon being rehired, O’Brien wanted to clean house along the offensive staff; Belichick overruled him. The Patriots could not bounce back on offense this past season, helping lead to Belichick’s exit.

The Pats plummeted from 17th in scoring in 2022 to 31st this season, eventually benching Jones and closing out the campaign with Bailey Zappe at the controls. Zappe is believed to have struggled in O’Brien’s offense in training camp, leading to the Pats waiving the 2022 fourth-round pick. Zappe returned and began the season backing up Jones. Not much ended up working for the team in O’Brien’s second tenure, providing a stark contrast from his first run — one that obviously featured better ingredients.

O’Brien’s initial Pats stint came from 2007-11; Tom Brady played quarterback in four of those seasons, going down with a torn ACL in 2008. O’Brien moved to the OC role in 2011, the Pats’ only Brady-era Super Bowl season that did not feature a top-10 scoring defense, and used the season as a platform to become Joe Paterno’s successor at Penn State. O’Brien returned to the NFL in 2014, landing the Texans’ HC job. That stay ended memorably, as the O’Brien HC/GM stint produced some criticized decisions, but it also included Houston venturing to four playoff brackets in the HC’s seven seasons.

Ohio State HC Ryan Day has been examining solutions on offense, Thamel adds, and is considering giving up play-calling duties. O’Brien, who called plays at Alabama from 2021-22, would step in should Day indeed step back. The Buckeyes have not beaten Michigan since 2019, but the team will have NFL prospects Emeka Egbuka and TreVeyon Henderson back after the wide receiver and running back respectively opted not to enter the draft this year.

This will officially open the Patriots’ OC position to start Mayo’s tenure. Mayo will be in place to lead on defense, but the team will need a new offensive play-caller ahead of a season that may well feature another first-round pick being spent on a quarterback. New England holds the No. 3 overall pick, and its QB need points to strong consideration being given to addressing that top deficiency early.

Latest On Patriots’ Leadership

When Bill Belichick and the Patriots parted ways, New England didn’t only lose a head coach, they lost a general manager, as well. That departure has left the team with a lot of questions concerning the current and future makeup of the team’s front office. One of the biggest questions with the 2024 NFL Draft on the horizon: who will be making draft day decisions?

The easy answer points to an external or internal candidate to replace Belichick in the role of general manager. Recent reports provided by Chris Mason of MassLive seem to point in a different direction, though, indicating that the team is in no rush to hire a replacement. Whether that means the team will wait months, until after the draft, to either promote or hire someone into the general manager role, or if that means that the Patriots are confident in the current structure without a de facto general manager, it sounds like New England could be relying on current personnel to draft this April.

That current brass is composed of director of player personnel Matt Groh, director of scouting Eliot Wolf, pro scouting director Steve Cargile, college scouting director Camren Williams, and senior personnel advisor Patrick Stewart. Jeff Howe of The Athletic explained that, in a fairly fluid situation, Groh and Wolf are running the operation for now, and there’s no guarantee that anyone will end up with the title of general manager. They, along with Cargile, Williams, and Stewart, though, are expected to remain in place at least through the draft.

If the team does decide to go internal, Wolf appears to be one of the most well-positioned candidates. Before his tenure in New England, Wolf spent two years as the Browns’ assistant general manager. ESPN’s Mike Reiss claims that the past four years for Wolf have effectively served as “an extended job interview.” That being said, the possibility of an external candidate has not been ruled out. New head coach Jerod Mayo has reportedly spoken with external candidates from opposing front offices in consideration for the job.

Speaking of Mayo, there are some who have questioned the Patriots’ quick trigger finger on hiring Belichick’s coaching replacement. Some executives and coaches are reportedly surprised that New England rushed into the hire and didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to interview other candidates, even if just to gather information that could be beneficial in the future.

Mayo’s hiring doesn’t answer the questions at offensive coordinator either. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, while Bill O’Brien currently remains in place as the team’s offensive playcaller, an O’Brien departure could lead to a reunion with Josh McDaniels, fresh off his most recent attempt at being a head coach.

There are many questions in New England from the front office to the coaching staff. Will the team go internal or external to replace Belichick as a general manager? Will the Patriots hire a general manager at all? Who will join Mayo on his first coaching staff? New England has lots of questions to answer, but ownership appears to be in no rush to answer them.

Latest On Bill Belichick’s Patriots Future

As we get closer to Black Monday, the job status of Bill Belichick will continue to command headlines. While it’s still uncertain if the legendary coach will stick in New England, it sounds like rival teams are preparing for a divorce.

According to Josina Anderson, there are “teams within the NFC South” that have “potential” interest in Belichick. Considering the Panthers’ midseason coaching change, the organization has been loosely connected to Belichick. Mike Jurecki of Arizona Football Daily confirms that Carolina “has always been an option.”

However, there haven’t been any previous rumblings of a pursuit by the Buccaneers, Saints, nor Falcons. Each of those teams’ head coaches could be at risk of losing their jobs, so it’s hard to definitively point to any one team based on Anderson’s report.

It sounds like it isn’t just rival teams that are anticipating a break up. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, some Patriots staff members are “bracing for change.” As a result, these individuals “have begun examining outside opportunities out of necessity,” a hint that Robert Kraft and co. could make sweeping changes to the organization.

Andrew Callahan and Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald recently explored what led up to this point in New England. Following a dismal showing from the offense in 2022, there was hope in New England that replacing Matt Patricia with Bill O’Brien would solve some of the issues. However, Belichick was a proponent of sticking with Patricia, and while O’Brien tried to clean house on the offensive coaching staff, the head coach denied the request. This led to a divide on the offensive coaching staff, and the new OC had clear frustrations with the WR and OL coaches.

It sounds like those frustrations were shared by the assistant coaches, although they weren’t necessarily targeted at O’Brien. A source told Callahan and Kyed that newly-hired offensive line coach Adrian Klemm “confronted” director of player personnel Matt Groh “in a loud exchange” earlier this season. Klemm would later take a leave of absence, resulting in assistant coach Billy Yates and veteran OL James Ferentz leading the unit. Per the Boston Herald, Klemm isn’t expected to be back with the Patriots next season.

There were also issues among players. Cornerback Jack Jones “blew up” at position coach Mike Pellegrino after not starting the Germany game, leading to the player’s release, according to the Herald. Meanwhile, offensive lineman Trent Brown reportedly spoke openly about leaving for an NFC team this upcoming offseason.

Ultimately, sources believe Belichick’s “personnel control and inability to assemble a functional staff” led to his demise in New England. Still, these sources stressed that players continued to play hard for their head coach, and there’s a belief that he “hasn’t lost his fastball as a hands-on coach.” We’ll soon learn if Kraft feels the same way.

Patriots Waive QB Will Grier

The Patriots’ backup QB carousel continues. The team is waiving quarterback Will Grier, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The move clears a spot for p-squad offensive lineman Conor McDermott to join the 53-man roster, per Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald.

[RELATED: Patriots Undecided On Week 12 QB Starter]

While Mac Jones has started every game for the Patriots this season, the depth chart behind him has seen plenty of reshuffling. Projected backup (and potential QB1 fill-in) Bailey Zappe was bounced from the roster after the preseason, only to later rejoin the active roster via the practice squad. Former third-round pick Matt Corral was also briefly on the team before eventually earning his walking papers.

The Patriots then pivoted to Grier as a potential backup option. Grier most recently served as one of Dak Prescott‘s backups in Dallas, but following the Cowboys’ acquisition of Trey Lance, the 2019 third-round pick was cut loose. After a brief stint on the Bengals practice squad, Grier was added to New England’s 53-man roster back in late September.

Grier hasn’t seen the field at all this season, and even with the Patriots’ uncertain QB situation, it was unlikely he was going to earn a promotion from his QB3 role. Coach Bill Belichick admitted as much during a recent appearance on Patriots All-Access.

“When you’re new and haven’t been here in training camp and had the full background of OTAs and a chance to run our core plays, it’s a lot to catch up on,” Belichick said. “Will has done a good job of it. There’s no issues with him. It’s just there’s only so many snaps out there.”

With Grier no longer on the roster, Malik Cunningham could be in line for snaps if the Patriots pivot from both Jones and Zappe. The UDFA out of Louisville has spent much of the season working with the Patriots receivers, although the organization hasn’t completely shut the door on his QB abilities. For what it’s worth, the rookie did tell Kyed that he’s not part of the team’s plans at quarterback tomorrow against the Giants.

So, as expected, that leaves Jones and Zappe as the candidates to start Week 12. The Patriots still haven’t announced who will start the game, but with Jones having reportedly lost “at least 80 percent of the Patriots’ locker room,” there seems to be some real momentum towards Zappe earning his first start of the season. The 2022 fourth-round pick showed some flashes as a rookie, but the Patriots have been reluctant to turn to the second-year pro in 2023.

That lack of faith could be because of Zappe’s underwhelming performances at practice. As Kyed writes, the second-year pro has struggled under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, and Jones has been the superior QB every step of the way. While that’s obviously not saying a whole lot, the Patriots may be struggling to justify a Zappe promotion.

Possible Futures For HC Bill Belichick, Patriots

While speculation has run amok on multiple occasions this season that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could be on the hot seat in New England, he went off and silently signed a “lucrative, multiyear” extension in the offseason. According to a recent report from Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, a source has disclosed that they believe the new contract only runs through the 2024 season. If the Patriots truly have plans to move on from their longtime head coach, what would that look like? And what would that mean for Belichick or the Patriots?

Even if the extension keeps Belichick for only one additional year, Volin isn’t convinced that he makes it that long, believing it would take “a miracle turnaround” for this not to be his last season in New England, even claiming there’s a chance Belichick doesn’t make it through the rest of the season. With a bye week coming up in two weeks, the team’s trip to Germany could be crucial. While Volin is only voicing an opinion, the writer for the Globe has been on the Patriots beat for ten years and should have a decent read on the team’s pulse.

He doesn’t believe, however, that recent reports of Washington desiring a trade for Belichick are believable. While the idea of reeling in Belichick and allowing him to recreate his former staff with Matt Patricia, Josh McDaniels, and Joe Judge seems like an interesting idea on its surface, one the Patriots would rejoice over having a draft pick in return for, the Commanders don’t have the spare cash to bring on the NFL’s highest-paid coach. Also, with a franchise who seems intent on pumping out old blood in a mass transfusion, bringing in one of the NFL’s second-oldest head coaches doesn’t quite fit the bill. If current head coach Ron Rivera is on the way out, as many have prophesized, a younger replacement seems far more likely.

Now, if the Patriots do cut ties with the 71-year-old skipper, who takes over as the first new head coach of the Patriots in 24 years? Team owner Robert Kraft (and his son, team president Jonathan Kraft) have repeatedly stuck with names already popular in New England. According to Volin’s sources, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel would be a “home run” hire to replace Belichick.

Vrabel, a former player who spent eight years playing linebacker for the Patriots and helping them win three Super Bowls, moved quickly through the coaching ranks, moving on from a position coaching job at Ohio State to work his way up to defensive coordinator of the Texans. After one year at the helm of Houston’s defense, Vrabel was hired in Tennessee where he has amassed a 51-39 regular season record and gone 2-3 in the playoffs. He received a new contract after the 2021 season, but there’ve been rumors that Vrabel and new general manager Ran Carthon don’t quite see eye to eye. So, perhaps, New England could entice Vrabel towards a reunion.

Since Belichick also serves as de facto GM, a new GM would become a necessity, as well. The same sources that pointed to Vrabel labelled Texans GM Nick Caserio as another “home run” hire. A longtime member of the Patriots’ player personnel department, Caserio won his newest position after 13 years as director of player personnel in New England. After two rough years at the helm in Houston, Caserio may have looked expendable to start the year, but rookie head coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud have injected new blood and excitement into the Texans franchise. Caserio would likely be a tough get at this point, unless there’s some hidden discontent on behalf of Ryans, who may be looked to as the pilot of this season’s potential turnaround.

Volin didn’t stop there, even speculating on future potential coordinators for this “home run” staff. Many don’t view current offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien as the team’s play caller of the future. In fact, not many believe that was the intent when he was brought in in the first place, assuming he would use the role as “a springboard to a head coaching opportunity.” With quarterback Mac Jones struggling and the offense scoring the second-least points in the NFL, he certainly doesn’t appear to be on the short-list to replace Belichick or even retain his play calling duties for much longer.

Instead, a reunion with McDaniels, the recently fired former head coach of the Raiders, seems within the realm of possibility. McDaniels probably isn’t in a hurry to take a new job, as he’s getting paid by Las Vegas for the next four years, but he may feel the need to return to the NFL by at least next season, in order to ensure his name stays fresh in NFL circles. A return to the familiar grounds of New England seems reasonable.

On defense, inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo is thought to be a big up and coming coach in New England, after refusing a head coaching interview in order to take a big payday with the Patriots. Mayo may not be ready to take over as head coach in New England just yet, but he may be able to earn defensive coordinator duties in a hypothetical Vrabel staff. Regardless, the Kraft’s love him and were willing to pay a lot of money in order to keep him from leaving for greener pastures.

While all of this is purely hypothetical, the heat on Belichick seems very real. With the Patriots facing a possible 2-8 start if they can’t pull out a win in Frankfurt, the end of the Belichick-era may soon be at hand. There are lots of things to figure out between now and the prophesies above, but if things continue going from bad to worse, we may see it all play out in the months to come.

Latest On Bailey Zappe, Patriots QB2 Situation

When the Patriots’ 2022 season ended unceremoniously, some pundits wondered if 2022 fourth-round quarterback Bailey Zappe could battle 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones for the starting gig. Now, heading into the regular season, it’s uncertain if Zappe is even set to be New England’s QB2.

[RELATED: Patriots Claim QB Matt Corral]

Zappe was a surprise cut by the Patriots on deadline day, but he ended up landing back with the practice squad. The team has since added former third-round pick Matt Corral to the mix, muddying the QB picture behind Jones. As Albert Breer of writes, Zappe’s preseason struggles and apparent misfit with Bill O’Brien‘s new offense ultimately led to the quarterback’s placement on the practice squad.

For all their warts, Matt Patricia and Joe Judge actually helped Zappe become acclimated to the NFL by having him play in an offense that resembled his collegiate system from Western Kentucky. The rookie won both of his two starts last season, completing 70.7 percent of his passes for 781 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions. Jones, meanwhile, played to a 6-8 record while completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns vs. 11 interceptions.

Zappe seemed prime to push Jones for the starting job in 2023. However, as Breer notes, O’Brien’s new offense better leverages the starter’s strengths, and that system doesn’t necessarily fit Zappe’s play style. The second-year QB proceeded to struggle during the preseason, and with a handful of roster-worthy players eligible for IR, the Patriots succeeded in sneaking him through waivers and signing him to the taxi squad (the team took a similar path with UDFA Malik Cunningham, who impressed during the preseason at both quarterback and wide receiver).

New England’s recent waiver wire claim of Corral doesn’t necessarily mean that Zappe has been demoted to QB3, however. Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald believes Zappe will be the QB2 (via practice squad elevation) to begin the season. The incumbent backup already has a head start on understanding the offense (even if it doesn’t fit his strengths), and the organization would only had around two weeks to catch their newcomer up to speed. Both Zappe and Corral will likely battle it out in practice to determine who’d be the replacement in the event of a Jones injury.