Bill O'Brien will have to be replaced soon as the Patriots Offensive Coordinator (Steve Balestrieri photo)

Coordinator From Inside or Out?
The New England Patriots released the information that Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien has accepted a job as the Head Coach at Penn State replacing Joe Paterno. Not surprising, since O’Brien has been rumored for some time as a head coaching candidate for either an NFL or college team.

What will the Patriots do in terms of replacing O’Brien? If their track record is any indication, the team will promote from within as this is what Bill Belichick likes to do. So that would mean that possible either Kirk Ferentz or Chad O’Shea could find himself as the de facto Offensive Coordinator calling the plays for a season without the benefit of the title for the first year.

But is that the right move? Logic states it makes perfect sense because these coaches have been raised, so to speak on the Belichick way. They know the way he operates, what he likes to do and how he likes to do it. There’s never a question of a coach or player doing something wrong that they weren’t aware of, since all philosophy comes from the mountain (BB’s office).

But sometimes I believe that the strict code of hiring within stunts the growth of Belichick’s disciples. Look no farther than the track record of his assistants once they leave the friendly confines of Langley/Foxboro. By not hiring from outside and not injecting his assistants with fresh ideas or philosophies “outside the box”, I think it could influence their thinking and planning on thinking there is only one way to skin a cat when in fact there are many.

I would love to see Belichick hire an outsider next season as both Defensive and Offensive Coordinator. Steve Spagnuolo, would be a perfect guy for the Patriots defense since he preaches a completely different kind of defense, and coaches such as Matt Patricia, the DC-in-waiting, could soak up his knowledge like a sponge. Spags would likely only be a coordinator in New England for a short time anyway before he gets another shot at being a head coach. But I believe it would do Patricia a great deal of benefit to see Spags idea on how to coach defense. That would make him a much better coordinator in the future.

This morning we learned that the Patriots asked the Rams for permission to speak with OC Josh McDaniels, since he holds a similar position with St. Louis, his hiring would have to come with compensation for the Rams or upping his title possibly to Offensive Coordinator/Asst. Head Coach. His hiring would be in a matter of speaking, both hiring from within and going outside. But in the long run, its more than likely the Patriots doing “due diligence”, although if McDaniels comes to New England, he’d likely bring WR Brandon Lloyd with him, since Lloyd has made it clear he wants to go wherever McDaniels goes. Hmmm. But look for Ferentz/O’Shea with a headset on next Sept. calling plays without the title.

Record against Playoff teams?
If you didn’t follow football or just got dropped on Earth from Ork or someplace, and you read a Boston newspaper or watched ‘the network’ you would swear the Patriots are the first 3-13 team to make the playoffs. That’s not a typo, because the Patriots are in fact 13-3, I checked……Twice.

The calls about the defense being the worst ever had to be curtailed when the Packers defense edged them out as giving up even more yards. And the Packers along with the Saints are the media’s big choices to win the Super Bowl, so that one doesn’t make as much sense now. The Saints by the way have the 30th defense in the league just ahead of the Patriots and Packers. The Giants with a re-charged defense entering the playoffs rank 27th in terms of yards allowed.

Now the “experts” are saying, ‘The Patriots didn’t beat any playoff teams’ yada, yada. Oh please! The Pats stellar record against playoff teams didn’t help them much last year now did it? And about having not beat any teams above .500? Maybe those teams should have played better against New England. Had the Jets won one game, Denver won, Dallas won, they all would have been over .500 but they didn’t. I don’t remember too many experts saying the Patriots having an easy schedule back in September.

It all comes down to execution and performance on Jan. 14th, this season is different than any other in that everyone has flaws and anything can and probably will happen. So please cease with the “mirage” BS, teams that win 10 games a year for a decade aren’t mirages. Go grind your axe against Belichick somewhere else.

Defense is opportunistic
We all know the problems that the Patriots defense has had all season especially in the secondary, but…if they can keep this up in the playoffs ala the Saints in 2009 or the Packers of last season, that could bode very well for the Patriots.

The Patriots defense produced 34 turnovers this season with a +17 ratio which is outstanding in this or any year. Consider this, on 24 of those turnovers the Patriots offense turned into points. They scored a total of 126 points on those 24 turnovers which is a huge amount. The Rams, possessing the lowest scoring offense in the league scored only 196 points total. If they can be ball hawk in the playoffs, it may be the difference between winning and losing once the playoffs start.

Hurry up or wait?
The Patriots have been slow starters on offense for quite some time this season, and have been falling behind in games before ultimately coming back to win down the stretch. One method to combat this is that the team has gone to a hurry up offense, which limits the defenses ability to substitute and change up personnel as well as wears them down. A common critique of the Patriots has been “they can’t fall behind far against good teams in the playoffs” and on this one I will agree.

But if the Patriots come out in the hurry up and jump start the offense out to a quick start, this may indeed place pressure on the opponent and force them into making mistakes that the defense can pounce upon. That will bear watching.

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