The biggest upgrade that the New England Patriots made this offseason didn't even relate to the roster. Instead, it was the arrival of Bill O'Brien, who is slated to serve as the club's offensive coordinator following a lackluster approach in 2022 that was spearheaded by Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. O'Brien previously worked under Bill Belichick as New England's OC before becoming the head coach at Penn State and the Houston Texans on top of being the OC at Alabama.
Needless to say, he brings a more traditional approach which should help quarterback Mac Jones bounce back after the 2022 season where the former first-round pick noticeably regressed after a promising rookie year. As the Patriots now begin setting the on-field foundation for the upcoming season with OTAs, Jones seems to be meshing well with O'Brien.
"It's been really good. It's been normal," Jones told reporters after practice of his working relationship with O'Brien. "I think everything he's done so far has been really good. I think the communication is the most important part, and trust. I think it all starts with that when you're with a new coach and he's done a great job in controlling the room. I feel like everybody is on the same page. Just got to continue to do it. It's a marathon, not a sprint. So, we know that and he's obviously had great experience in the NFL and at Alabama where I was at, so there's a lot of good stuff that we've talked about. Just looking forward to working with him."
While Jones and O'Brien do have a shared past with Alabama on their résumés, the two were not in Tuscaloosa at the same time. However, Jones did reportedly help O'Brien ease into the Crimson Tide's offense when he was coming in as OC, and Jones was preparing for the NFL Draft, so there is a minor working relationship already intact.
"There's a lot of familiarity, but it's a new relationship still and we're just working on that trust," he said. "That's what I care about. I'm very much so a trustworthy person and that's what we're trying to build."
On top of working on that relationship with O'Brien, Jones is also in the process of building chemistry with his pass-catchers, which includes second-year wideout Tyquan Thornton. The 2022 second-round pick was reportedly heavily involved during Wednesday's OTA session and drew praise from Jones afterward.
"I think Tyquan, he's done a really good job just trying to be consistent," said Jones. "I got a chance to work with him in the offseason like a lot of the guys. For me and him, it's all about communication. I think he has to grow and learn with me and all of the other guys, too. We're all in the same boat together but what you see is exactly what you're going to get. He's fast, he's a smart football player. He's got strong hands. I think it's really just him continuing to grow that confidence just like we're all working for. He's going to be a great player for a long time."
Thornton caught just 22 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns last season. If he can make a Year 2 leap in O'Brien's new offense, Jones and the Patriots will be well-positioned to have a more respectable offense in 2023.