INDIANAPOLIS — There still are questions about Adrian Klemm’s ability to succeed as an NFL offensive line coach. But his most recent college stop was a smashing success.
Klemm, who is expected to be the New England Patriots’ new O-line coach, was the line coach, run game coordinator and associate head coach at Oregon last season. In his one year in Eugene, he helped turn the Ducks from a solid blocking outfit into an elite one.
Under Klemm’s leadership, Oregon surrendered just five sacks all season, the fewest in Division I. The Ducks also led all D-I teams in sacks allowed per game (0.4) and also boasted the FBS’s 12th-best rushing offense, averaging 215.8 yards per game on the ground. Only six Power Five programs had higher rushing averages.
The previous year, Oregon had allowed more than three times as many sacks (1.5 per game) and finished 24th in FBS in rushing. Linebacker Noah Sewell said Klemm’s arrival played a key role in that improvement.
“He for sure definitely got our O-linemen right,” Sewell, a 2023 draft prospect, said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Just the technique standpoint was on a whole different level from the previous years. I feel like he did a great job with our O-linemen this year.”
The Patriots, who have yet to officially announce Klemm’s hiring, are hoping he can have a similar impact on their O-line. They were a mess up front this season, with a shift in verbiage and insufficient coaching from Matt Patricia resulting in frequent breakdowns and free rushers.
New England allowed 32% more sacks than it did in 2021, and second-year quarterback Mac Jones performed far worse when pressured than he did as a rookie. Adding a proven O-line coach should help remedy some of these problems, assuming the Patriots also make the necessary moves to plug their current holes at offensive tackle. They already have two top-notch interior players in center David Andrews and right guard Mike Onwenu, and left guard Cole Strange was a 2022 first-round draft pick.
The Patriots interviewed Klemm for their offensive coordinator vacancy before ultimately hiring Bill O’Brien, and they reportedly gave him a pay raise to pry him away from Oregon.
Klemm still does need to prove he can operate a successful NFL line, however. A former Patriots player and longtime college coach, the 45-year-old’s résumé features just one season as a primary position coach at the pro level, and he left the Pittsburgh Steelers with two games remaining in that campaign to take his Oregon job.
Despite that unusual exit, Steelers general manager Omar Khan spoke highly of Klemm this week.
“Adrian was great,” Khan said Tuesday. “I loved my interactions with him. We had great conversations and hearing about his sons was great, they were around all the time. Just a good person to be around. (I) really enjoyed our time with him.”