INDIANAPOLIS — Josh McDaniels knows a good matchup when he sees one, and the Raiders coach has the sense there’s a real good one developing in New England.
McDaniels believes the relationship between Patriots quarterback Mac Jones and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien — two guys he’s worked closely with in the past — will be strong and mutually beneficial.
“I think he’s a great coach. Billy’s worked with a lot of quarterbacks before, and they’ve all had success, and he’s impacted all of those guys in a positive way,” said McDaniels, alluding to O’Brien’s work with Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson, among others. “He knows the position really well, understands the league, he understands how to get the most out of players at this level. He’ll do a great job.”
McDaniels worked with O’Brien and Jones when each entered the NFL — O’Brien as a Patriots offensive assistant in 2007 and Jones as the club’s top pick in 2021.
“When we added Billy back in 2007, he was a guy that came from college [Duke] and really wanted to make it in the NFL,” said McDaniels. “So it was apparent right away how hard he worked, how smart he was, and you could give him a lot of responsibility and he could handle it.”
O’Brien rapidly rose through the ranks in New England, becoming wide receivers coach (2008), quarterbacks coach (2009-10), and eventually succeeding McDaniels as offensive coordinator in 2011.
He then went on to head coaching spots at Penn State and with the Houston Texans. He spent the last two seasons as Alabama’s OC.
“All the things that Billy has accomplished and achieved since then haven’t surprised me at all,” said McDaniels. “Being successful as a coordinator in New England, winning at Penn State, winning in Houston, going down to Alabama and being part of their success there — none of that has surprised me.”
Now O’Brien gets to work with Jones, whom he briefly overlapped with at Alabama as the quarterback was preparing for the NFL Draft.
After a successful rookie season under McDaniels that included a playoff berth and Pro Bowl nod, Jones struggled for stretches in 2022. He missed three games with a high ankle sprain.
Now the hope is Jones can get back to the play of his feel-good rookie campaign with the help of O’Brien.
“He’s a great football coach, an extremely hard worker,” said McDaniels. “I have a lot of confidence that Billy’s going to do well wherever he’s at, and obviously now that’s in New England.”
Coaches stay busy
According to a league source, the Patriots have sent four assistant coaches to work players through positional drills here at the Scouting Combine: Troy Brown (receivers/returners), Mike Pellegrino (cornerbacks), Cam Achord (special teams), and Joe Houston (special teams).
It’s been an active offseason for the Patriots staff, which coached the winning West squad at the East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas in February. Additionally, defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington served as a coordinator at the Senior Bowl. Covington recently interviewed for the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator position and impressed new coach Jonathan Gannon.
“His interview was very impressive. I learned a lot,” Gannon said. “I actually told Coach [Bill] Belichick that after [the interview]. Coach Belichick knows how to coach the coaches, because this guy was on it. It was a really cool interview for me.”
Gannon also predicted Covington will earn a DC role “next year ... he’s right there.”
Director of player personnel Matt Groh is leading the Patriots front office contingent here.
Carter a no-show
Bizarre scene Wednesday morning as news broke that arrest warrants were issued for Jalen Carter right around the time the Georgia defensive tackle was about to meet with reporters. The Athens-Clarke County Police issued the warrant, which was obtained by the Associated Press and alleges that Carter was racing against a vehicle driven by Georgia staffer Chandler LeCroy when LeCroy’s car crashed, killing her and Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock on Jan. 15. The wreck was originally classified as a single-vehicle crash. Carter never appeared for his media session, and his draft status — he’s a first-round talent — is something to watch. Carter later released a statement saying he intended to return to Athens to answer the charges “and to make certain that the complete and accurate truth is presented.” ... Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta provided an update on what he called a “tough negotiation” with franchise quarterback (and potential free agent) Lamar Jackson. The former MVP represents himself. “Lamar and I are talking,” said DeCosta. “We talked recently and I’m optimistic. We want Lamar here.” Baltimore also can slap a franchise tag on Jackson ... Line of the day was delivered by Cincinnati linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. when asked about his playing style: “I just run through dudes’ faces.”