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Patriots' Offensive Overhaul: Bill Belichick Admitting Mistake, Better Late Than Never

Bill O'Brien is an old solution for a new problem, but also a necessary fix.

Everyone - and we mean everyone - saw this coming.

Except, that is, for the man who put it in motion.

The only one blindsided by the New England Patriots' offensive implosion this season? Bill Belichick, who has won six Super Bowls and whose Hall-of-Fame bust is already cast in Canton, just waiting for the date of his induction.

In the wake of offensive guru Josh McDaniels leaving Foxboro to become head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders last offseason, Belichick smugly shrugged and relied upon ... himself. He gave titles - and ostensibly authority - to a couple of failed head coaches with defensive backgrounds in Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.

But the responsibility for this year's offense stopped with Belichick. And, boy, did it ever stop.

Quarterback Mac Jones drastically regressed. Players publicly groused. And, in the end, the Pats wasted a season with a Super Bowl-caliber defense by scoring 17 fewer offensive touchdowns than a year ago, finishing 8-9 and missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

For most of his tenure in New England, all Belichick needed was Tom Brady. But now - 25-25 and without a postseason win without No. 12 - he needs help.

Prodded by a post-season autopsy led by owner Robert Kraft, Belichick - through actions, not words - has finally "admitted" his mistake.

The defensive staff is being sustained and fortified by the retaining of coveted defensive coach Jerod Mayo. And now the offense is on its way to an extreme makeover, signaled by the arrival of Bill O'Brien and the (expected) departure of Patricia.

After enduring this troubling timeline, the changes needed to happen. Better late than never.

February - With McDaniels gone, Belichick hints at a two-headed monster running his offense.

April - Despite having a Pro Bowl quarterback entering his second season (Jones) and a 14-year veteran at backup (Brian Hoyer), the Pats raise eyebrows by spending a 4th-round draft pick on Western Kentucky's Bailey Zappe.

May - ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky predicts doom and gloom for New England's offense, saying "I have no clue what New England is gonna do on offense, and it honestly concerns me for Mac Jones."

June - Skepticism about an offensive led by Patricia (or Judge) spreads throughout the league.

July - A week before training camp, the Pats reveal new titles for their offensive staff including Patricia (offensive line coach/senior football advisor) and Judge (quarterbacks).

August - During preseason games the Pats seemingly hold play-caller tryouts. Belichick, as only he can, calls it merely a "process."

September - The Pats open the season with a resounding, predictable thud, scoring only seven points in a loss to the Miami Dolphins in which offensive-line miscommunication leads to a strip-sack of Jones and a key fumble return for touchdown.

October - Both Jones and Zappe play ineffectively in an embarrassingly ugly 33-14 loss on Monday Night Football to the Chicago Bears, who didn't win another game all season and wound up with the NFL's worst record and No. 1 pick in the draft.

November - Jones and Belichick admit the offensive play-calling has become stale and predictable.

December - Increasingly frustrated by the offensive approach, a visibly upset Jones implores New England's coaching staff to - insert profanity - alter its play-calling. The quarterback is joined in criticizing the offense by receiver Kendrick Bourne, who suggests "we just need to scheme up better."

January - The season ends with a loss to Buffalo in which Jones throws three interceptions and the Pats muster only 23 points. They top 30 only once all season (with Zappe at quarterback), averaging 21.4 - despite the help of a league-leading eight non-offensive touchdowns - to finish 17th in scoring. Three days later an increasingly impatient Kraft summons Belichick and the changes commence.

Bringing back O'Brien might be an old solution to a new problem.

But it's a repair that we - well, most of us - knew was necessary for over a year.

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