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Jumbo Package: New England Patriots zero in on Bill O’Brien to help develop Mac Jones

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. Pickings are always a little slim the day after Christmas as most of the sportswriters took time off to be with their families, but as always we bring you what we have.

The biggest news from the weekend is that Bill O’Brien may really be going back to New England this time.

When O’Brien joined Saban’s staff at Alabama in 2021, he gave Saban a commitment to finish out his two-year contract. That time is coming up, and sources say there has been no extension and that a return to the NFL is a real thought for O’Brien.

The true impact of O’Brien is difficult to measure, considering Tom Brady was in his prime during most of O’Briens tenure and is obviously not in New England anymore. Regardless, the success they had together was noteworthy.

With O’Brien on the staff from 2007-2011, the Patriots led the league with 30.7 points per game and were second with 393.1 total yards per game. Since he left in 2011, the club is averaging three fewer points per game.

Patriots fans have been clamoring for Bill all year, as hard as Alabama fans have been clamoring to see him leave. Such is life in the coaching profession. Bill is committed to coaching in the Sugar Bowl.

Christopher Walsh notes that this recruiting class is a statement that Saban is far from done.

With all that in mind, there were three telling things about Saban’s press conference on Wednesday regarding this year’s signing class.

1) He didn’t single anyone out.

Had Saban commented on player he probably would have had to mention at least 15.

2) The coach immediately talked about the character of the class.

We will see how they pan out, but Nick is clearly pleased with the group.

Two former Alabama All-Americans reached 1,000 receiving yards for the 2022 NFL season on Saturday.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper hit the milestone for the sixth time in his eight NFL seasons. Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith has 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his second NFL campaign.

Smitty had himself a day catching passes from Gardner Minshew as Jalen Hurts nursed a minor shoulder injury, finishing with eight grabs for 113 yards and two touchdowns. He also made headlines with the funniest TD celebration of the year.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a good ending for Tua Tagovailoa this week.

“On the first one, I tried to throw it over a defender and ended up throwing over the defender and (wide receiver) Tyreek (Hill), so that one got away,” Tagovailoa said. “The second one, I might have said the wrong play. I’m not too sure. But there were just some communication issues on that. And then the third one was just not a good ball for my receiver to have been able to make a play on that.

“It’s tough. You get an opportunity to play on Christmas Day against a really good team, and I go out there and not being able to put my best foot forward for our team.”

You’re going to get that occasionally with a gunslinger. He completed 64% of his passes on the day for 310 yards on only 25 attempts, but those picks were huge in a loss they couldn’t really afford. The Fish now travel to New England and then host the Jets to close out the season. They will likely need to win one of those to make the playoffs.

In any case, Jaylen Waddle did this in the game.

Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs faced off in Pittsburgh. Neither had a particularly great day, though Najee did his hurdling thing.

After the game, the pair caught up.

That’a about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.