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Get Ready to See Josh McDaniels Back in the NFL

A deep dive into the Patriots' tumultuous season and the possibility of Josh McDaniels reclaiming his role in the Patriots organization.
Josh McDaniels

The New England Patriots are moving closer to that top pick in the NFL Draft, and that’s a good thing. But let’s face it, it’s getting harder for the Patriots faithful to stay excited about watching these games. Sure, a higher draft pick is something to look forward to. At the end of the day, what everyone really wants is to see the team show some competence on offense. That’s been in short supply this season, no matter who’s been in at quarterback. With such clear issues offensively, some names have been swirling to give the unit a fresh look for next season; none more than the newly-available Josh McDaniels.

New England Patriots Could See Former OC Josh McDaniels Reclaim His Role

For many, the hardest part about this Patriots season is the waste of the great performances the defense has been turning out week after week. They’ve been consistently strong, and have persevered through key injuries. That side of the ball is leading the NFL in points allowed in the last four games with 46 (26 in the last three), yet they still haven’t snagged a win. A huge part of that is the run defense, it’s been top-notch all season. Just look at the game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, they finished the game allowing just 1.2 yards per carry. On the season, opposing runners are averaging only 3.2 yards per carry when facing the Patriots; that’s the best in the league right now.

So, how bad is the Patriots’ offense? We’re talking historic levels here. They lost three in a row now, each time while keeping the other team to 10 points or less, which hasn’t happened since way back in 1938. This game just felt like the true culmination of all the season-long struggles they’ve had. Naturally, when things go south like this, people start looking for something to blame. The team isn’t making much headway, no matter who’s quarterbacking, and it’s starting to look like Bill O’Brien might be feeling the heat. With the offseason looming, there’s chatter that the Patriots might need a fresh perspective at offensive coordinator.

McDaniels Coaching History

If the Patriots are in the market for a new offensive coordinator this off-season, there’s an interesting option. Josh McDaniels is now available. He could potentially return to his previous role with the team. His time as the head coach for the Las Vegas Raiders didn’t exactly pan out – he got the boot after a 9-16 run over a season and a half. Between some deep-seated cultural issues and what looked like a mishandling of talent, it was a tough hill to climb. It’s hard to forget his rocky stint with the Denver Broncos from 2009-2010 where he went 11-17. With that track record, it’s a bit of a long shot to see him leading another NFL team as a head coach anytime soon.

McDaniels’ stint with the Raiders isn’t going to be considered a success by anyone. Yet, his track record as an offensive coordinator is undeniable. Especially looking at what he’s done with the Patriots. Though most of his tenure included managing Tom Brady – who’s sometimes viewed as an offensive coordinator in his own right – McDaniels had plenty of success when other quarterbacks had to take the helm. The most recent of which was Mac Jones’ rookie year, which was by far his best since entering the NFL. Beyond Jones, McDaniels was there in 2008, steering the team to 11-5 with Matt Cassel after Brady’s ACL injury. He also played a key role in developing young quarterbacks like Jimmy Garoppolo (the first time) and Jacoby Brissett; who each had impressive showings with the Patriots before leaving. Given his history and success in nurturing quarterbacks, McDaniels emerges as a strong candidate for a Belichick-led Patriots. Even more so if they’re likely going to be starting fresh with a rookie quarterback.

Belichick’s Uncertain Future

Now, all this talk about Josh McDaniels potentially returning is under the big ‘if’ – if Belichick is even around next season, and if Kraft wants to keep him on board. With the recent buzz about a possible Belichick trade, it’s got people wondering how long he’ll remain in New England. It doesn’t exactly help that and the Patriots aren’t shining at all this season, the worst record under his watch. Some have questioned Belichick’s desire to continue coaching the Patriots. With the team in this shape, it seems like there might be thoughts of a mutual parting, something Diana Russini at The Athletic brought up. In the press conference following the 6-0 loss to the Chargers Belichick was asked, “Do you want to stay here and keep coaching the Patriots?” His response didn’t answer the question at all. “I’m looking forward to this week and playing the Steelers.”

As the Patriots close out a season marked by defensive highs and offensive lows, the off-season looks ripe for change. Whether it’s a familiar face like McDaniels stepping back in or Belichick charting a new course, the decisions made will define the team’s trajectory. With a top draft pick in sight and coaching shifts on the table, it’s a critical juncture for the Patriots. The good news is, it can only go up from here.

Main Photo: Jamie Sabau – USA Today Sports


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