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Bill O'Brien is Taking the Ohio St. Job. And I Have a Suggestion for Jerod Mayo's OC.

Eric Canha. Shutterstock Images.

You know that toy that you really, really wanted? You saw the commercial thousands of times while watching Nickelodeon or whatever and watched the precocious, camera-friendly kids squeal with unhinged glee as they played with it, convincing you that all that stood between your dull, uneventful childhood and a life of pure ecstasy was that assembly of plastic and wire? Only to realize within a half hour of getting out of the box that it had no play value, provided zero fun, and it ended up covered in dust in the back of the closet next to those educational games your grandmother thought would make you smarter? Or am I being too specific?

Regardless, that's an analogy for how badly I wanted Bill O'Brien to come to New England as our offensive coordinator. He was going to be the solution to all our problems. He was uniquely qualified to undo all the harm caused by Bill Belichick's misguided decision to turn a promising second-year quarterback over to a lifelong defensive coach. O'Brien and Mac Jones were going to use their familiarity from the brief time they spent at Alabama together to return the Patriots offense to its former glory, and guide Jones on his crucial next career step toward the glory I'd always imagined for him. 

Yeah. About that. … I won't even link to the posts I was writing last year at this time because I'm sure they're incredibly cringe and just being me is embarrassing enough without piling on myself. Anyway. The Patriots were last in the league with a humiliating 13.8 points per game. Jones was removed from games four times. Spent the end of the season on the bench. And in the final game, was a healthy scratch. So be careful what you wish for. 

And this morning we learn the Bill O'Brien II era in New England is over after one season:

I have no opinion on him going to Ohio State. I don't have a dog in that fight. I wish nothing but the best for the guy. I believe he did all he could with what he had to work with here. And am sincerely convinced he's a competent coach who'll be an asset to the Buckeyes' program. Though there is this factoid:

Again, that's not my axe to grind. What's done is done. Some reports have suggested that Belichick wanted to stick with Patricia in 2023 but the Krafts intervened and forced him to make the switch, but that's neither fish nor fowl to me. I'm moving on, and looking forward only under a new head coach. 

More to the point, as I've said here before, I'm ready for a change in system. 

We Need a New Offensive System

I've mentioned this in various posts, many times. But by no means do I intend to shut up about it. The Erhardt-Perkins system has served us well. So did the Saturn V rocket that sent men to the moon, but they still mothballed it eventually. And the problem with the scheme the Pats have been running since Charlie Weis pulled the playbook out of his moving box in 2000 is that it's even more high maintanence than the Apollo rockets. When it's working, there's none better. It's an awe inspiring sight that slips the surly bonds of Earth and touches the face of God. When it doesn't, it's Apollo 13. It's clever how it reduces complex plays that read like computer code in other schemes to just a few terms. F-Right 72 Ghost/Tosser. Gun Right Brown 74 Hoss-X Follow. Everything from the protection scheme to the route combos all in just a few syllables. But problem is, not everyone can speak the language. And unless everyone can, the moon rocket becomes a bloody contraption that one one can fly because they can't read the manual. You're supposed to run this route against man, this one against zone. This option if the defender is on this shoulder, but stem it off the other way if he's on the opposite shoulder. So we end up with quarterbacks doing exaggerated arm gestures as they come off the field because they're seeing one thing and their targets are seeing another. That is, when they can get the ball away because pass rushers coming in unblocked due to the same overly complex rules. Complexity can be a good thing. Look at the success Kyle Shanahan has had in San Francisco with a handful of different signal callers despite all the motions and shifts he employs. Because however his concepts are packaged, coached and practiced, his guys can execute it without having to understand quantum mechanics. I want one of those. 

Now we have the chance to make a clean break from this scheme that once served us so well, but has outlived its usefulness. Let's carefully hoist it to the rafters at The Hall at Patriots place next to the John Deere ride-on mower from the Snowplow Game so that future generations can gaze in wide wonder at its grandeur. But adopt something that doesn't require Tom Brady to operate it. Because we are fresh out of GOATs. 

And I have a suggestion. 

Scott Halleran. Getty Images.

Hear me out. Because this isn't just some perfunctory, unconsidered take. This isn't just bringing back a guy who was popular with the fans back in his day. Or going with the name recognition, in that way everyone over the age of 70 used to think Jerry Remy should be managing the Red Sox. He's been around the league as a position coach. He's been gaining experience working for different teams in different systems. 

As far as his coaching style, he's got the utmost respect of the best wide receiver in the game. A guy who has made the Pro Bowl every year he's been in the league and has been 1st Team All Pro more times (five) than he hasn't (three):

Welker not only had complete mastery of the Patriots old system as a player, he taught it for two seasons working under O'Brien in Houston. In college, he likewise mastered the late, great Mike Leach's Air Raid scheme, posting back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. And was a key element as Texas Tech finally overtook Baylor, Texas, and Texas A&M, beating all three in 2002. 

After leaving Houston's staff in 2018, Welker went to work for two of the most celebrated young, innovative offensive minds in the league. First Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco (2019-2021), then Mike McDaniel in Miami (2022-present). And presumably has learned something from all of them. 

Give me that guy. Give me someone who's fluent in all these different languages. Who's experienced differing approaches. Seen what's worked and what hasn't. Gotten a sense of what he likes and doesn't like. And who has been part of successful programs that kept up with the evolution of pro football, got the most out of the talent available to them, and put up mountain ranges of yards, 1st downs, and points. 

Furthermore, give me a guy who has history with the head coach. Welker and Mayo were teammates for four full seasons, from Mayo's rookie year in 2008 to the time Belichick got sick of paying Welker All Pro money and he left for Denver in 2012. That means Welker presumably voted for Mayo as team captain three times, since he was elected starting in his second season and every season after. 

Give me Wes Welker. Then give Welker Jayden Daniels with the No. 3 pick. It's all I'm asking for right now. 

I know I got everything I wanted last year and it didn't work out. But I can promise you - and myself - this will be way more fun.