There are few things in this life harder than seeing someone you care about trapped in a toxic relationship. It's not only bad for them, the negativity can spread to everyone around them. Their unhappiness becomes your unhappiness. Worse, your helplessness, as there's little to nothing you can do to help. They need to navigate their way through the tough times. And all you can do is be supportive, however that manifests itself.
And the corollary to that is, there are few things as rewarding as seeing that person get out of the relationship and find their Mr./Ms. Right. Without even thinking about it, I can name a dozen people I know this has happened to, and it's a pure good. When that occurs and that person in your life finds someone who truly appreciates them, the happiness spreads to everyone. It's the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats.
If I'm being honest, there are no relationships I care about the way I do the one between my quarterback and the men who coach them. My friends and family can fend for themselves. This is what counts. And it was painful to see Mac Jones trying to make sense of a Matt Patricia/Joe Judge offense that was not built on sense. From the first practice scrimmages to the preseason games, from Week 1 to the merciful end of the season, it was all tension, drama, and emotional abuse that was as bad for us as it was for them.
Now comes the good part. Where the one you're beholden to reunites with someone they met in college, and from the outset it would appear he's found true happiness once again:
Mike Reiss, ESPN - The Patriots hired Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator on Jan. 26, and coach Bill Belichick is making him (along with the rest of the staff) available to reporters for the first time Tuesday. That will generate a new round of headlines on arguably the team’s signature move of the offseason, which owner Robert Kraft opined should be to quarterback Mac Jones’ advantage. Some close to the Alabama program, where O’Brien served as OC the past two seasons, believe Jones’ presence is one of the top reasons the job appealed to O’Brien.
CBS Sports Boston - Jones was asked for his thoughts on working with new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.
"Yeah I think we're all excited for this next year, and it just starts with putting your head down and going to work. We've got a great group of guys, and it's all about how you come together as a team -- players, coaches, everybody," Jones said. "So I'm excited to work with him and I know we all are. And it's gonna be a great year, we've just gotta put the work in. ... I've definitely been giving it a lot, just like every year, and just super excited to get back with the guys here soon and get to work."
NBC Sports Boston - Enter new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who was hired to help right the offensive ship in 2023. Not surprisingly, he plans to blow up the old system.
While discussing the possibility of a quarterback competition between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe this offseason, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer revealed that O'Brien plans to make dramatic changes to the Patriots' offense.
"That could be especially complicated too by the fact that you're putting in essentially a new offense," Breer [said]. "My understanding is Bill O'Brien is completely reworking the playbook with the new coaches. ...
"I think it's going to be a hybrid of a lot of different things," Breer said. "I think it's going to have some stuff that they did at Alabama that Mac is going to be comfortable with, because Mac was at Alabama. ... (O'Brien) coached Deshaun Watson in Houston, he coached Bryce Young the last couple years at Alabama, so he's got a lot of different ideas.
"I think he's got really great perspective because he does have the bones of the Patriots offense, but he's gonna be able to do some things that I think are on the cutting edge of where the sport is going."
That last part is the key, obviously. But let's not overlook the fact people from Alabama believe O'Brien's biggest motivation to take back his old job on the Patriots sideline is the chance to work with Jones again. For the first time since he took over for Steve Sarkisian as the Tide's OC in 2021 and a graduating Jones gave him PowerPoint training sessions on the scheme they'd been running. The fact he was impressed enough with Jones' football brain to want to put his career in the QB's literal hands tells us everything we need to know about his confidence in McCorkle.
He could've stayed on Nick Saban's staff forever. Turned it into a sinecure where all he has to do is coach up Bama's latest 1st round quarterback prospect every couple of seasons. But he walked away from that life because he wants to work with this one particular guy for the foreseeable future. It's beautiful beyond words.
But to circle back to that last part again, this is what is going to make this one of the most fascinating years we've ever seen around here. On O'Brien's first tour of duty, he ran a very close approximation of the Erhardt-Perkins system Charlie Weis installed back in 2000. He gave it a software update, to be sure, developing the two-tight end Joker passing offense with Gronk and that other guy, that had half the teams in the league scrambling to double their tight end budget to try to emulate it. While last year Jones - and we - were subjected to whatever it was Patricia and Judge were trying to accomplish, with disastrous results.
Now we'll get to see what O'Brien has picked up in his travels over the last dozen years, from Penn State to Houston to Alabama. Working with quarterbacks of every size, description, and skillset. And how he can apply those adaptations to best maximize the talent he's being given to work with, all across the offensive roster.
Personally, I'd love to see him keep the basics of the Erhardt-Perkins scheme, with its one-word shorthand for formations and option-heavy passing attack. For the same reason I wanted the Pats to draft Jones in the first place. Because I think his best asset is his ability to process information and attack defenses based on pre-snap reads and adjust on the fly.
But at the same time, I've thought that even Josh McDaniels under utilized some Jones' abilities. Play action for one. And RPOs even more so. Jones was very effective running them at Bama, and O'Brien made them a staple of his play sheet while working with Bryce Young. So I'm hoping we get back to the same basics that made Jones the best rookie QB in a very good class, but with with updates to suit the current league trends. Basically anything that will prevent a repeat of this:
Workouts begin tomorrow. As does this team's assault on the playoffs. Mark my words, before it's all said and done, we'll realize Bill O'Brien was the biggest offseason acquisition in the league in 2023.