Bill O’Brien reportedly leaving Patriots to become Ohio State offensive coordinator

Patriots

Bill O’Brien’s return to Foxborough in 2023 didn’t revitalize a regressing Patriots offense.

Bill O’Brien is reportedly heading to Ohio State. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The Patriots will be on the prowl for a new offensive coordinator for the 2024 season.

After just one season back in Foxborough, Bill O’Brien is on the move once again, with ESPN’s Pete Thamel reporting that O’Brien will join Ohio State as the school’s new offensive coordinator. 

Thursday’s report marks the end of a disappointing second stint for O’Brien in New England, with the former Houston Texans head coach and longtime Bill Belichick staffer tasked with revitalizing Mac Jones and a lackluster Patriots offense that regressed under Matt Patricia and Joe Judge in 2022.

During his first stint as New England’s offensive coordinator in 2011, New England went 13-3 and averaged 32.1 points per game.

This year, the results weren’t nearly as kind. In a miserable 4-13 season where Mac Jones was eventually benched after 11 games, New England was tied for last in the NFL in scoring, averaging just 13.9 points per game.

Still, an experienced play-caller like O’Brien with years of head-coaching experience likely would have come in handy with Jerod Mayo now at the helm of the Patriots — especially if New England lands a blue-chip quarterback prospect with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

But with O’Brien leaving his post in Foxborough, Mayo and the Patriots will have to open up a full search to find their next OC.

If Mayo doesn’t want to deviate from an offensive scheme that has been rolled out in Foxborough for years, New England could target former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who is available after getting fired as Raiders head coach earlier this season.

NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo reported Saturday that McDaniels is expected to be at the top of Mayo’s list as the team’s next offensive coordinator — potentially easing some of the workload for Mayo entering his first season as head coach.

But if Mayo and the Patriots are opting to rebuild the offense from scratch, they should have plenty of options.

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer said that he expects the Patriots to conduct an “open search” to find their next offensive coordinator.

On Wednesday, Mayo was asked about what he is prioritizing as far as potential OC candidates in New England. 

“The No. 1 thing is developing people,” Mayo said. “Back when I first started playing, most of the time Coach would say something and guys would do it. I think, with this generation, you have to show them that you care about them before you get into competency as far as X’s and O’s are concerned.

“That’s one thing I feel like with all my coaches, they should know the players. They should know their room better than I do. They’re closer. They’re closer to those guys, and they have that day-to-day interaction. To me, whether we’re talking offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator — all that stuff is under [evaluation] — my No. 1 thing is I want to bring in developers.”

Potential options currently outside of New England’s organization include Rams passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson, Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, and Dolphins wide receivers coach Wes Welker.

Former Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley — who is currently serving the same position with the Rams — is also an intriguing candidate.