Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots better hope their reported desired choice to serve as the team’s next offensive coordinator is not on the Los Angeles Chargers’ radar.
Both the Patriots and Chargers have openings at offensive coordinator this offseason. LA’s position opened Tuesday when the team announced it was parting ways with Joe Lombardi and passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Shane Day. The Patriots started their search for their play-caller after a failed year of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.
Of course, the Patriots and Chargers are not the only two teams with an opening. The New York Jets recently moved on from Mike LaFleur while the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Rams and Washington Commanders all have OC availabilities. That number also could grow should a current OC leave for a head coaching position.
But while the Patriots might be able to compete with a few of the other openings, there’s no debating the Chargers are the best landing spot.
Justin Herbert, who recently concluded his third season after being selected No. 6 overall in 2020, is the biggest reason. Herbert undoubtedly is the best signal-caller on a team with a current opening. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year and his tough-to-replicate skillset has been consistently on display. There are reasons to believe Patriots quarterback and 2021 first-rounder Mac Jones will rebound under a new coordinator, but Jones doesn’t have the same ceiling Herbert does.
Another aspect is related to the high-end talent on the Chargers’ roster. Running back Austin Ekeler and receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams give LA the best group of skill players of any team with an opening. In regards to the Patriots, running back Rhamondre Stevenson can go yard-for-yard with Ekeler, but LA having a pair of No. 1 wideouts and the Patriots without one makes a noticeable difference.
Ekeler, 27, is under contract through the 2023 season while the 30-year-old Allen and 28-year-old Williams each have two years left on their respective contracts. Throw in additional pieces like 2021 first-round offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, who looked like a star during his rookie season before being injured in his sophomore campaign, and budding contributors like 2021 third-round wideout Josh Palmer and recent fourth-round running backs Joshua Kelley and Isaiah Spiller, and there are plenty of pieces for an incoming coordinator. The Patriots have relied on depth, but the team’s leading receiver in yards the last three seasons, Jakobi Meyers, is set to hit the open market.
The Patriots reportedly have circled Bill O’Brien as their primary target, which is a good thing given O’Brien’s pre-existing familiarity with the franchise and ties to the area. Perhaps he wouldn’t be as inclined to head to the West Coast. Nevertheless, New England just has to hope O’Brien or anyone else they’re interviewing — Keenan McCardell, Nick Caley, Adrian Klemm, etc. — don’t pique the interest of the Chargers.
Because it’s not only New England’s winters that are no comparison to LA’s sunsets.