Rob Gronkowski backs return of Bill O’Brien as Patriots OC: ‘I loved playing for him’
Bill O’Brien will become the play caller at a familiar place in 2023 after being named the New England Patriots new offensive coordinator.
O’Brien’s first stint with New England started in 2007, and he was eventually named the team’s offensive coordinator in 2011. He has familiarity with the Patriots and quarterback Mac Jones since the two were at Alabama in recent years.
Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski chimed in on the move to bring in O’Brien and gave his former coach a ringing endorsement.
“I love Bill O’Brien. I loved playing for him,” Gronkowski said Wednesday on the “Up and Adams Show” with Kay Adams.
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Gronk and O’Brien became familiar with one another during a two-year stretch in New England. In 2010, Gronk was a rookie tight end selected in the second round of the draft, and O’Brien was the quarterbacks coach.
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The next year, O’Brien was promoted to offensive coordinator, and Gronk flourished under his play calling and finished the season as an All-Pro.
Gronkowski was bullish on what O’Brien can bring to Foxborough.
“I love the energy that he brings to the table,” Gronkowski said. “He has that niche to get you to go out and play your best football, to get you fired up and to get you to want to go out on the field and get better every single day and make big plays. It was just a great time when he was here during those two seasons.”
Longtime head coach Bill Belichick took an unorthodox approach to the offense in 2022, which yielded unimpressive results.
The Patriots finished 26th in total offense and 32nd in red zone efficiency last season with defensive coach Matt Patricia serving as the offensive play caller.
Gronkowski added that he believes O’Brien will turn the offense around.
“His football knowledge is through the roof, and I believe that he’s definitely going to restore the Patriot faithful on the offensive side of the ball,” Gronkowski noted.
Gronk also hinted that New England was willing to pay O’Brien more than what a typical assistant coach would command.
“He’s going to put his players in the best position to make plays. He’s going to come up with some creative ideas, and I think they’re definitely going to improve as an offense tremendously under Bill O’Brien.
“That’s who the Patriots had to get. They had to get Bill O’Brien. … I hope they paid head coach money for him, because they definitely had to,” Gronkowski added.
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O’Brien also served as the Houston Texans head coach from 2014-2020. He led the team to four playoff appearances before being fired in 2020 after an 0-4 start.