If O'Brien goes to Penn State, who replaces him?

If O'Brien goes to Penn State, who replaces him?
January 1, 2012, 4:05 pm
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FOXBORO - With reports swirling that Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is in line for the head coaching job at Penn State, the question in New England becomes who would be in line to replace him.
O'Brien's work in New England has been somewhat underrated. Succeeding Josh McDaniels in 2009, he had a bit of a rocky start (remember the giant signs he used to signal in plays early that year?) and '09 was not a banner season.
But in 2010, O'Brien presided over an offense that transformed on the fly after Randy Moss was jettisoned. With an untested backfield combo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead taking over when veterans Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk went down, the Patriots' running game flourished. O'Brien also helped enmesh rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in the offense and remade the team from one that challenged vertically to one that was potent in exposing mismatches.
Aside from weekly slow starts that have been an irritation, O'Brien's offense with Tom Brady at the controls has continued to be remarkably productive.
Here are three possible successors if O'Brien goes to Penn State.
CHAD O'SHEAProbably the most likely candidate since the Patriots usually promote from within. He's the team's wide receivers coach and has been in that role since 2009. He came to the Patriots in 2008 after working with the Chiefs and Vikings from 2003 through 2008. A college quarterback at Marshall and the University of Houston, the 39-year-old O'Shea also coached special teams. That kind of well-rounded offensive experience is a huge benefit to Belichick. He hasn't been an offensive play-caller, however. That may mean Bill Belichick will go without a titled OC in 2012 if O'Shea is given the responsibilities.
JOSH McDANIELSHe's the OC in St. Louis right now but Steve Spagnuolo and his staff are on the ropes. Obviously, if the staff goes, McDaniels is out of a job and looking. He could be seen as head coaching material elsewhere - Kansas City if Romeo Crennel doesn't go from interim to full-time head coach? - but he'll likely always have a home here.
JEFF DAVIDSONCurrently the offensive line coach with the Vikings, Davidson was in New England from 1997 through 2004 whereupon he went to Cleveland as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach and then to Carolina from 2007 through 2010 as the offensive coordinator.