INDIANAPOLIS — As someone who’s worked with both Mac Jones and Bill O’Brien, Josh McDaniels believes the pair will be a great fit with the Patriots.
Speaking Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, McDaniels explained why he’s confident O’Brien and Jones will succeed as the former begins his second stint in New England.
“I think he’s a great coach,” the Las Vegas Raiders head coach said. “Billy’s worked with a lot of quarterbacks before, and they’ve all had success, and he’s impacted all of those guys in a positive way. He knows the position really well, understands the league, understands how to get the most out of players at this level. He’ll do a great job.”
McDaniels and O’Brien overlapped with the Patriots during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. When McDaniels left in 2009 to become head coach in Denver, O’Brien took over New England’s offense and ran it for the next three seasons. McDaniels eventually returned to the Patriots and served as their offensive coordinator for the next decade — a tenure that concluded after Jones’ rookie season.
Now, it’s O’Brien’s turn for a Patriots comeback. He’ll be tasked with resurrecting the Patriots’ offense and kick-starting Jones’ development after head coach Bill Belichick’s initial plan to replace McDaniels with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge failed.
Jones was a Pro Bowl alternate and Offensive Rookie of the Year runner-up under McDaniels in 2021 but sharply regressed following his departure. With Patricia and Judge running things this season, Jones ranked 30th in QBR and 28th in expected points added per play while looking visibly frustrated with the team’s offensive direction.
New England officially hired O’Brien as its offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach last month. Between his two Patriots stints, the 53-year-old spent two seasons as head coach at Penn State, seven as head coach of the Houston Texans and two as OC at Alabama. O’Brien was introduced to Jones during his time in Tuscaloosa, briefly overlapping with the Crimson Tide product ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.
“Billy was one of those guys where, when we added Billy back in 2007, he was a guy who came from college and really wanted to make it in the NFL,” McDaniels said. “So it was apparent right away how hard he worked, how smart he was, and you could give him a lot of responsibility and he could handle it. All the things that Billy has accomplished and achieved since then haven’t surprised me at all. Being successful as a coordinator in New England, winning at Penn State, winning in Houston, going down to Alabama and being part of their success there — none of that has surprised me.
“He’s a great football coach, extremely hard worker. I have a lot of confidence that Billy’s going to do well wherever he’s at, and obviously now that’s in New England.