The Patriots enter a new era with a new head coach seeking out candidates for all three coordinator positions, but how New England decides on its offensive coordinator, in particular, will be pivotal.

Jerod Mayo on Wednesday formally was introduced as head coach, and the presentation made it clear he would be different from Bill Belichick. However, Robert Kraft’s moves and Jonathan Kraft’s reported internal motivations hint at Belichick being the scapegoat for the Patriots’ downfall since Tom Brady left in 2020.

New England reportedly will interview rising candidates for its defensive coordinator position and reportedly set up an interview for its special teams coordinator position. But Bill O’Brien is set to leave as offensive coordinator to take the same position with the Ohio State Buckeyes, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel. That obviously is noteworthy.

As of Friday morning, there weren’t any concrete reports on candidates for the offensive coordinator position. Mayo also didn’t give much detail about what he wants out of his team’s offensive philosophy. There’s little doubt the defense will be a top-10 unit, but the offense needs a major upgrade.

Story continues below advertisement

It’s why who gets named offensive coordinator will be crucial. Will the Krafts and Mayo play it safe with Josh McDaniels? New England’s offense was an above-average unit under McDaniels in 2021. The former Las Vegas Raiders head coach hasn’t achieved much success outside of Foxboro, Mass., but he’s thrived in the comfortable environment at Gillette Stadium.

If McDaniels wants to run it back with Belichick in Atlanta, the Patriots should let him walk. New England has an opportunity to really move on to a new, bold direction. The Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers showed there is a viable path to entrusting creative minds who can connect with modern plays and understand the micro-edges to win in the NFL.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

No Matchup Found

Click here to enter a different Sportradar ID.

Make no mistake, it would not be a surprise if the Patriots signed someone with ties to the organization. And there’s a type that multiple reporters and analysts have linked New England to in recent days: Basically, anyone who’s ever sat in a room with Sean McVay or Kyle Shanahan.

Story continues below advertisement

The McVay point is an interesting one to look into. What seemed to be lost from the horrid experiment of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge running the offense was that they reportedly were trying to run a variation of the Los Angeles Rams’ offense. Neither Patricia nor Judge was clever enough to understand what that meant, and it led to the destruction of Mac Jones’ potential.

But do the Krafts still want to go with that model? It’s cliché to call the NFL a “copy-cat league,” and the ascension of the Packers and Texans only serves for teams to chase what they have.

Nick Caley and Zac Robinson are going to be the two names you’re going to hear a lot about. Caley was a former tight ends coach and interviewed for the offensive coordinator job last season before joining McVay’s staff as tight ends coach. He’s the perfect model to mesh the old with the new, similar to how Mayo will instill the teachings of Belichick but also not be as stern as the latter notoriously was for 24 years in New England.

Robinson fits the mold of Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, who has attracted head-coaching interest. Robinson was a former Patriots draft pick and has spent the past five years on McVay’s staff. But before he became an NFL coach, the 37-year-old was a Pro Football Focus analyst. Slowik spent time at PFF after his stint under Mike Shanahan and was responsible for helping out with their player grades. Robinson would be similar to Mayo in that he was a former player, and he seemingly would bring a forward-thinking approach that Slowik brought to Houston.

Story continues below advertisement

Tee Martin appears to be the darling dark horse pick for multiple analysts and reporters. As a player, he most famously was one of the six quarterbacks taken ahead of Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft, but he’s had about a decade of success as a coach in college and the NFL. He was the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterbacks coach and could be the best coach to develop a young quarterback if that’s the direction New England goes with the third overall pick in this year’s draft.

Shane Waldron and Chad O’Shea are other names likely to be thrown around, but the point is New England must resist the urge to play things safe. The AFC East is a lot more winnable than it appears, so Mayo has a chance to succeed in his first season as head coach.

The NFL doesn’t reward those who choose to not rock the boat. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles, who failed to find suitable replacements for Jonathan Gannon and Shane Steichen.

Innovation is the key to success, and the Patriots’ path back to relevancy will depend on how the Krafts proceed to kick off the post-Belichick era.

Story continues below advertisement

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images