Bill O’Brien: Don’t call me the OC
|06.17.10 at 2:45 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s a safe bet that Bill O’Brien has more control over an offense than any quarterbacks coach in the NFL.
The Patriots did not name an offensive coordinator following the departure of Josh McDaniels at the end of the 2008 season, but O’Brien, who was elevated to the role of quarterbacks coach before last season, had his fingerprints all over the Patriots offense last season, working as the de facto offensive coordinator.
Throughout minicamps and workouts this spring, it has appeared O’Brien will be just as hands-on and have just as much control over the entire offense this season as he did last season: How many quarterback coaches could publicly air out two rookie tight ends for failing to line up correctly before a snap as O’Brien did to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on Wednesday morning?
But he still resists attempts to call him the OC.
“No, I’m coaching the quarterbacks,” he said Thursday at the conclusion of Patriots minicamp, “and it’s a collaborative effort with the other assistants — Dante, Ivan, Brian, Chad, Brian Flores, and obviously Bill. We all work together and just try to determine what we have out there offensively and go to practice every day, try to accomplish certain goals every day, and that’s what we try to do. So, the role hasn’t changed.
“I’m comfortable with whatever my role is. Again, it’s a collaborative effort. All of us work at it – game-planning, practice planning. You all have a certain niche as far what our roles are. Whatever Bill asks me to do, I’m gonna do. So I’m gonna be comfortable with whatever he asks me to do.”
O’Brien is going into his fourth season in New England, and was named quarterbacks coach in 2009 after working as the wide receivers coach in 2008. (Prior to that, he spent a year as a coaching assistant in 2007 following 14 seasons coaching at the collegiate level.) He has been an offensive coordinator at the college level, working at Georgia Tech (2001-02) and Duke (2005-06), and said there is some carryover.
“I just think the organizational skills that it takes, those are the things that carry over — yeah, there’s some carryover,” he said. “But at the same time, again, it’s just coaching the quarterbacks, working with the other assistants and making sure that the players are prepared for each practice, each game, and go from there.”
The ascension of O’Brien signaled a change for Tom Brady, who had only worked with Charlie Weis and Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinators over the course of his career. When it came to working with O’Brien, some publicly wondered if the cozy relationship the quarterback enjoyed with them could be replicated. For his part, O’Brien sounds as if the two have been able to forge a “very strong relationship.”
“Well, I’m going into my fourth year so I’ve been around him for a while,” O’Brien said of the quarterback. “Even my first year, as the offensive assistant, I was involved with the quarterback position a lot. So our relationship is a strong relationship. It’s a very professional relationship. I have fun coaching him, and I’m sure he has some fun playing for me at times. But it’s a very strong relationship.”
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