After the Patriots' huge offensive strides in 2010, Bill O'Brien has received a long-awaited promotion to offensive coordinator.
O'Brien, who has been with the Patriots for four seasons, was the offensive play-caller during the last two seasons while his title remained as quarterbacks coach. O'Brien's offense had a tough season in 2009, but an improvement with his play-calling and Tom Brady's brilliance helped the Patriots rank first in the NFL in points scored.
O'Brien's development in that role has somewhat mirrored that of Josh McDaniels, who was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2006 after serving as the quarterbacks coach and play-caller in 2005. It took O'Brien an extra year to earn that promotion, but the Patriots' progress proved it was deserved.
The Patriots announced several other moves Friday. Defensive backs coach Corwin Brown, who was in charge of the safeties, will not return after his only season with the team.
With that, Matt Patricia's role will change. Once thought to be a candidate for defensive coordinator, Patricia coached the linebackers for five seasons, but he'll be in charge of the safeties in 2011. Patricia is considered to have a very bright football mind with a lot of potential, so this move could be an indication that the safeties' progress is a major priority next season.
The Patriots also won't have an official defensive coordinator for the second consecutive season, which likely means head coach Bill Belichick will again resume those responsibilities.
Patrick Graham, who has been a defensive assistant, will coach the linebackers in 2011. And Brian Flores, who was an offensive and special teams assistant last season, will be a defensive assistant in 2011.