Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien was hired by the New England Patriots

Bill O’Brien’s two-year tenure as Alabama’s offensive coordinator has come to an end.

The New England Patriots hired O’Brien as their offensive coordinator Tuesday, ESPN reported. It will be O’Brien’s second stint for the Patriots after the Massachusetts native previously led the New England offense from 2009-2011.

The two-year contract that O’Brien signed with Alabama in 2021 was due to expire at the end of February, and there was long speculation about his return to the NFL.

O’Brien is Nick Saban’s third assistant coach to leave this offseason. Defensive coordinator Pete Golding joined Ole Miss for the same position, while safety coach Charles Kelly took the job as defensive coordinator from Deion Sanders in Colorado.

The departure of both coordinators shatters a period of relative stability on Saban’s staff, with Golding serving four seasons in his role and O’Brien serving as offensive coordinator for the last two seasons following two seasons by Steve Sarkisian.

Alabama’s offense had averaged at least 47 points per game and 500 yards per game during Sarkisian’s tenure, but performance declined slightly under O’Brien. After averaging 488 yards and 39.9 points per game in 2021, The Tide has gained 488 yards per game and 41.1 points per game this season. These averages ranked 11th and fourth among FBS teams, respectively.

But Alabama lost four games in its last two seasons, all to SEC rivals, and narrowly won other competitions while missing a national championship. That increased the heat fans were putting on both O’Brien and Golding, with Saban defending both coordinators’ work during a November interview with ESPN.

“It’s my responsibility,” Saban said. “I know what pieces they name; I’m involved in how they prepare for the week. I watch exercise movies with them. But I think people are looking for someone to hate when things aren’t going right. But most of it boils down to a lack of execution. It’s not really what you do, but how did you do it?”

Saban publicly expressed his confidence in O’Brien during the 2021 season, saying, “I actually think he did a pretty good job.” But when asked about O’Brien’s job performance last November, Saban replied during a press conference: “I’m not going to publicly analyze anyone, good, bad or indifferent.”

O’Brien began his coaching career as an assistant for several ACC schools but is best known for his work as coach of then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and later served as the head coach of Penn State (2012-13) and the Houston Texans (2014 -20). ).

When the Patriots lost offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the Las Vegas Raiders in early 2022, there was speculation about O’Brien as a backup candidate. But O’Brien stayed in Alabama and later spoke about his two-year commitment to Saban, and the Patriots instead turned to offensive line coach Matt Patricia, a longtime defensive coach, to name their offensive plays in 2022.

The result was a significant drop in production for the Patriots’ Mac Jones-led offensive line, prompting the Patriots to announce earlier this month that they would be filling the offensive coordinator job. O’Brien was one of five reported candidates for an interview, but was long considered a favorite.

Alabama will seek to fill its offensive coordinator position while also beginning to replace two-year starter Bryce Young at quarterback. The rest of the offensive staff — running backs coach Robert Gillespie, wide receivers coach Holmon Wiggins, tight ends coach Joe Cox and offensive line coach Eric Wolford — have remained intact so far.

Mike Rodak is an Alabama beat reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @micerodak.