The Patriots offense officially has a motto for the 2023 season courtesy of new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.
"I think the big thing for us right now is everybody is starting with a clean slate," O'Brien told reporters in his first press conference since returning to New England. "What you did in the past, whether it's a player, coach, or anybody in the organization, it really has no bearing on what happens moving forward."
The Patriots entire offense isn't looking in the rearview mirror at a bumpy 2022 season that led to O'Brien's return for a second stint as the team's offensive coordinator. O'Brien spent the last two seasons coordinating Nick Saban's offense at the University of Alabama, following seven seasons as the head coach of the Houston Texans.
Along with discussing the direction of the Pats offense, O'Brien explained that the decision to return to New England was about a homecoming.
"The big thing about coming back here was to come back and work for a great organization. Great owner, and a great head coach. I'm from here, my family lives here, and my wife went to Boston College. I'm very familiar with the area and all that played into our decision as a family to come back here. It wasn't about one person. It was about the whole package."
Although Patriots fans and yours truly would love to know how the offense will look schematically, O'Brien didn't divulge much in that department. The Pats offensive coordinator said the coaching staff has studied film from the last few Patriots seasons, other teams around the NFL, and the college game as they craft the 2023 playbook.
"I think it would be crazy for me to stand up here and tell you what we're doing offensively," O'Brien said. "It's all about this team, this offense, what are we doing within the framework of the team, the players we have here. As you put together what you're going to do heading into training camp, you're learning from the players, and that process just started.
"Over time, you've been in a lot of different places, and you have a lot of ways of doing things. Some of those things are things we've done here, but some of those things are new."
O'Brien also spoke about starting quarterback Mac Jones and his brief interaction with Jones before the 2021 NFL Draft. Jones was prepping for the draft in Tuscaloosa when O'Brien took over as offensive coordinator.
"When I first got hired, he was there getting ready for the draft. I basically met him, and he talked to me about the generalities of the offense, and that was about it. This time period here, starting yesterday, is the time where you really get to know all the players."
"I think that's really what is important is getting to know the guys you are coaching before you even start talking X's and O's, and that's kind of what this time period is about," O'Brien explained.
As for next week's draft, Director of Player Personnel Matt Groh discussed O'Brien's knowledge from the college game and how it's aiding the scouting department. However, O'Brien downplayed his role in selecting offensive talent in the draft.
"I have a good grasp on the guys at Alabama, who I think a lot of them are really good. I have a grasp on some of the teams we played in the SEC, but I'm not an expert on all of college football," said O'Brien. "We do our part as coaches. We evaluate players, give our opinion, and get back to our roles on the staff."
O'Brien is the main addition to the coaching staff, taking over as the play-caller for last year's de facto offensive coordinator Matt Patricia, and as quarterbacks coach from Joe Judge. Judge, who remains in the building, will be an extra set of eyes on special teams this season, special teams coordinator Cam Achord told reporters during Tuesday's assistant coach availability.
However, the Patriots also added two new coaches to O'Brien's staff, including a new offensive line coach in former Pats draft selection, Adrian Klemm. New England's offensive line gains an experienced voice to run the room who has coached the line before and been in Patriots Hall of Famer Dante Scarnecchia's legendary system in the past.
"He's really smart, a really good staff member. A good communicator with a lot of experience in different systems and places. The whole staff has been great. We meet a lot, we meet in the room next door, and there's good chemistry on that staff so far," O'Brien said.
Speaking to Patriots.com, Klemm gave his two cents on the system the Patriots will use to make line calls this season, which was tweaked a year ago under the former regime.
"I think it's one of those things where we all sit down and work together. As a collective unit, we make those decisions, and it's a work in progress," Klemm said.
After finishing 24th in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric offensively last season, the 'clean slate' protocol is the path forward for New England's reworked offensive coaching staff.
Although the draft looms to acquire more offensive talent, a lot is riding on O'Brien and company to get things back on track.
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