Source: O'Brien headed to Penn StateMcDaniels coming back?

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Source: O'Brien headed to Penn StateMcDaniels coming back?

Bill O'Brien has agreed to accept the head coaching job at embattled Penn State a source close to the situation tells CSNNE.com.

O'Brien, the Patriots' offensive coordinator since 2009 (he was given the title in 2011 but carried out the responsibilities in 2009 and 2010 after Josh McDaniels left) wades into a difficult situation at Penn State, replacing deposed legend Joe Paterno who was fired in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

O'Brien faces a hard road in Happy Valley. A smart, passionate coach who played at Brown University and coached collegiately at Duke and Georgia Tech before joining the Patriots' staff in 2007, he's a gifted and innovative offensive mind.

The high points of his tenure in New England came in 2010 when he remade the Patriots offense after Randy Moss was traded, turning the Patriots' attack into a more precise and horizontal scheme featuring rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez along with slot receiver Wes Welker. He also cultivated the overlooked talents of running backs Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the Patriots finished with an NFL-best record of 14-2.

In 2011, O'Brien continued to tap the resources he had, utilizing the tight ends in New England in a way unprecedented in the NFL. That he had Tom Brady pulling the levers had an impact, certainly, but O'Brien's demandingand vocal style played well with the Patriots' hard-working offensive group.

Recruiting promises to be tough for O'Brien. The Sandusky scandal casts a pall on a highly-respected program and - rightly or wrongly - the Penn State brand currently has a stain on it.

The continuing fallout from the situation will undoubtedly be something O'Brien has to tactfully deal with over the next few years as Sandusky's case moves through the judicial system and O'Brien - now the public face of the program - will be in a position to answer questions about it.

One thing Bill Belichick's talented assistants who've moved on to head coaching jobs have often lacked is media savvy. O'Brien is being dropped into a cauldron of turmoil both because of the scandal and as the successor to Paterno.

As for the Patriots, it remains to be seen whether O'Brien stays with the team through the playoffs. Odds are he will. After O'Brien leaves, the Patriots can look to their own staff for replacements with either wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea or tight ends coach Brian Ferentz. They could also look outside the program to either former offensive coordinator McDaniels - out with the rest of the staff in St. Louis - or maybe former Patriots assistant Jeff Davidson.

Jeff Howe: Good move by Patriots to see what price is on Richard Sherman trade

Jeff Howe: Good move by Patriots to see what price is on Richard Sherman trade

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald talks with Toucher and Rich about the report that the Patriots inquired what the price would be to acquire Seahawks Pro Bowl corner Richard Sherman via trade.

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.

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He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.

Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.

"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."

Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.

“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.

Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.

The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.

"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.

"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."