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The short list to replace Bill O’Brien as Patriots offensive coordinator

01.06.12 at 12:54 am ET
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With the news that Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’€™Brien will take the head coaching job at Penn State, here’€™s a list of some replacements who could be polishing their resumes for a shot at the job.

Josh McDaniels: Currently the offensive coordinator in St. Louis, he cut his teeth with the Patriots as an assistant from 2001 until 2005 before becoming the Patriots offensive coordinator in 2006. He was OC in New England for three seasons before taking the head coaching job in Denver and then moving on to become the offensive coordinator in St. Louis.

McDaniels is currently under contract with the Rams for another season, but there is change in the air in St. Louis. If a new coach comes in who isn’€™t necessarily found of McDaniels or wants to get his own OC, McDaniels could be shown the door and be available. (For more on his situation with the Rams, check out this story.) But even then, there’€™s no guarantee he’€™d return to New England — he’€™s also in the mix in Kansas City as someone who could be a head coach in waiting. (There’€™s certainly a greater possibility for him to eventually become a head coach with the Chiefs — presumably as an eventual successor to Romeo Crennel.)

Brian Ferentz: The son of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz (who worked with Bill Belichick in Cleveland), he started with the Patriots as a coaching assistant in 2008, moved to offensive coaching assistant the following year and became an offensive assistant in 2010. He was officially promoted to tight ends coach at the start of this season, and has helped youngsters Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez become two of the best young tight ends in the game. At 28, he is on the younger side, but age certainly didn’€™t prevent the Patriots from promoting McDaniels, who was calling offensive plays at age 28 as the quarterbacks coach. (McDaniels would get the official title of offensive coordinator when he turned 29.) If they feel he’€™s ready, the Patriots could do the same thing with Ferentz, giving him a year as the unofficial OC before bequeathing the official title on him in another year or two.

Chad O’€™Shea: The Patriots wide receivers coach, like Ferentz he’€™s an offensive assistant who has seen success with the players under his tutelage. Hired as the Patriots’€™ receivers’€™ coach on Feb. 25, 2009, he’€™s in his 14th coaching season and his seventh NFL season. The 39-year-old has also worked as an offensive assistant with the wide receivers for the Vikings (2006-08). He started his NFL coaching career with the Chiefs, where he served as a volunteer special teams assistant in 2003 and assisted with special teams and linebackers for two seasons from 2004-05.

Pat Hill: The 60-year-old Hill worked with Belichick in Cleveland and was recently let go by Fresno State. Hill was part of Belichick’€™s staff from 1992 through 1995, serving as Cleveland’€™s tight end and offensive line coach. He’s a longshot in the mold of former defensive coordinator Dean Pees, but still, he’€™s an available name who has ties to Belichick.

Nick Caserio: Maybe the most intriguing of the bunch. Currently New England’€™s director of player personnel, the 36-year-old has an extensive background in many different parts of the franchise, having come on board with the organization in 2001 as a personnel assistant. He became an offensive coaching assistant in 2002, and a scout in 2003. He served as the team’€™s director of pro personnel from 2004 through 2006 before taking a year to return to the field, this time as the wide receivers coach. He returned to the front office in 2008, and has held his current position with the Patriots since then. He has his hands in several aspects of the organization — he has called offensive plays in the past, and has sat upstairs in the booth on game days. If the franchise wants to promote from within but they don’€™t believe Ferentz or O’€™Shea are quite ready, Caserio could get the call, at least on a temporary basis.

Bill Belichick: There’€™s always the possibility that the Patriots decide to simply forgo naming a coordinator. They’€™ve done it on several occasions, including this season, when they decided not to name a defensive coordinator, even though Matt Patricia has essentially taken over as the DC in waiting. It wouldn’€™t be out of the realm of possibility to not name an offensive coordinator, but give more responsibility to someone like Ferentz or O’€™Shea, let them learn on the job, and if they look like they have taken to the job, officially name them OC in a year or two. (One other possible wrinkle worth mentioning ‘€” O’€™Brien is also the team’€™s quarterbacks coach, and the Patriots could split the jobs again going forward.)

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Bill Belichick, Brian Ferentz, Chad O'Shea
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