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Bucs Miss Out On Key Offensive Coordinator Candidate to Replace Byron Leftwich

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can officially cross one name off of the list of potential replacements for the team’s vacant offensive coordinator position.

Per Adam Schefter and Chris Low at ESPN, Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Bill O’Brien is expected to return to the New England Patriots as their new offensive coordinator for the 2023 NFL season.

Alabama OC/QB coach Bill O’Brien has returned to New England and is being named the Patriots offensive coordinator, sources tell @ClowESPN and me. O’Brien was a Patriots’ assistant coach from 2007-2011, and now returns to coach Mac Jones, whom he briefly worked with at Alabama.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 24, 2023

O’Brien acted as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during the 2011 season, working very closely with quarterback Tom Brady during O’Brien’s time in New England.

Brady and O’Brien enjoyed a healthy amount of success during their time working together as a QB/OC duo in 2011, with Brady throwing for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns that season.

O’Brien also acted as Brady’s quarterback coach during his MVP season in 2010, which led many to believe if the Bucs could land O’Brien as the team’s offensive coordinator that it may entice Brady to return to the Buccaneers if he decides to continue playing football in the NFL for a 24th season.

Buccaneers Nearly Landed Bill O’Brien as Offensive Coordinator in 2022

Sometimes, timing truly is everything in the game of life.

Last offseason, Byron Leftwich was a leading candidate to become the new head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times suggests that if Leftwich ultimately took the Jags head coaching gig, O’Brien would’ve been the organization’s plan at the offensive coordinator position.

“If Byron Leftwich had become head coach of the Jaguars last season, the Bucs’ plan was to hire Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to replace him in Tampa Bay,” said Stroud. “It stands to reason after firing Leftwich last Thursday that O’Brien would have been a preferred addition to Todd Bowles’ staff, especially if he is hoping to convince quarterback Tom Brady to play here one more season.”

After the Bucs enjoyed a very productive season on the offensive side of the football in 2021, finishing 2nd in the league in total yards per game (405.9) and points per game (30.1) and first in yards passing per game (307.6), the Bucs offensive production plummetted in 2022, finishing dead last in the league in rushing yards per game (76.9) and 25th in the league in points per game (18.9) scoring 11 fewer points per game.

The inability to secure O’Brien as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator could negatively play into Brady’s decision-making process for the upcoming 2023 season.

Tom Brady Gives an Emphatic Update On His Future

Speaking of Brady’s decision-making process, he provided a very direct response on the January 23 episode of his “Let’s Go!” podcast with Jim Gray and Larry Fitzgerald.

“Jim, if I knew what I was gonna (expletive) do, I’d have already (expletive) done it,” said Brady. “I’m taking it one day at a time.”

Whether you believe Brady’s response to the question regarding his football future was genuine or not, he does appear to be a fit frustrated with questions regarding his future at the moment.

Brady is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins on March 15.

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