Pats name Bill O'Brien offensive coordinator


Pats name Bill O'Brien offensive coordinator

By Tom E. Curran

We can now drop the "de facto." For two seasons, Bill O'Brien has been the lead game-planner and playcaller for the Patriots offense. His title, though, has been quarterbacks coach. On Friday, the Patriots decided to hand him the title of the job that best fits the job he's been doing. It's a good deal for O'Brien, who persevered through a tough 2009 after succeeding former OC Josh McDaniels after McDaniels left to coach the Broncos. Coordinating a 2009 offense that featured a still-healing Tom Brady and a subtly declining Randy Moss, O'Brien got a lot of flak for the Patriots' offensive failures, especially in the second halves of games. But in 2010, he helped craft an offense that successfully featured tight ends, reincorporated Deion Branch after the trade of Moss and got production from unlikely sources (Danny Woodhead, BenJarvus Green-Ellis). Brady, meanwhile, returned to full strength and had one of the great regular seasons in NFL history with 36 touchdown passes, four picks and arecord for throws without an interception. The fiery O'Brien and equally fiery Brady have been known to flare at each other, but Brady consistently praises O'Brien's preparation and game-calling. O'Brien, meanwhile, has deflectedsole responsibility for offensive game-planning when asked about it, saying it's a shared job among all the offensive coaches and Bill Belichick. Meanwhile, jettisoned safeties coach Corwin Brown will be replaced by linebackers coach Matt Patricia. Brown, we've come to hear, could be an especially hard guy to work with whether you werea coaching peer or a player. Patricia figured to be a leading candidate for the defensive coordinator spot vacated last year after the team's au revoir to Dean Pees (Belichick handles that job). Patricia will be working with a group that - despite Brown's demeanor - had an outstanding season. Patrick Graham, a defensive assistant, now takes over a linebackers group that returns an All Pro inside linebacker in Jerod Mayo. The 32-year-old Graham is a 2002 graduate of Yale where he played defensive line. Brian Flores goes from offensive assistantassistant coach of special teams to Graham's old job. There's no word out of Dallas yet on the possible hiring of highly respected Patriots strength coach Mike Woicik. It's been acknowledged by a source that the loss would be a blow because of Woicik's expertise but that Harold Nash, Woicik's current assistant, is well thought of, as well.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

Trump wishes Kraft good luck, says Brady called to congratulate him

President-elect Donald Trump made sure to thank a few of his supporters from New England -- particularly those at 1 Patriot Place -- during a speech on the eve of his inauguration to the nation's highest office. 

Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all earned shout-outs from Trump. Kraft was one of many Trump donors present for a dinner at Washington, DC's Union Station, where he was singled out by the soon-to-be-president. 

"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob.

"Your friend Tom Brady just called. He feels good. He called to congratulate us. He feels good. Good luck. You're going to do great."

Trump gave one extra nod to Belichick, who he says taught him to out-work his competition. 

"I out-worked everybody," Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.

Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign. 

Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown. 

The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player. 

Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.

Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform.