The first time Josh McDaniels left the nest, it didn’t end that well. McDaniels was hired in 2009 as the Denver Broncos head coach. After an impressive 6-0 start, including a signature win over Bill Belichick and the Patriots, the Broncos stumbled to an 8-8 record. He was fired 12 games into the 2010 season.
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In 2012, after a brief stint with the then St. Louis Rams, McDaniels found himself right back in Foxborough. In a bizarre turn of events, McDaniels was able to join the Patriots for their eventual Super Bowl run after being relieved of his duties with the Rams. The team eventually fell to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. However, at the start of the 2012 season, McDaniels once again resumed his role as offensive coordinator. Throughout his tenure, the Patriots offense has ranked in the top five in points seven of his nine seasons. The two instances where they didn’t finish in the top five were 2006, his first season and 2008, the year without Tom Brady.
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Since his return to the Patriots, McDaniels stock has steadily grown. After Super Bowl XLIX, he was on the radar of several teams. After the second super bowl win last season, most assumed McDaniels was as good as gone. However, McDaniels elected to stay, and now may be rewarded with a third super bowl title. Perhaps, a second head coaching job will follow shortly thereafter.
Except for his three-year absence between 2009-2011, McDaniels has been a member of the Patriots staff since 2001 when he was a coaching assistant. In 2004 he was promoted to quarterbacks coach and held that position until 2005. Ater the 2005 season, a year removed from the departure of Charlie Weiss, McDaniels was promoted to offensive coordinator. He held that position until 2009 when he left to fill the vacant head coaching job in Denver.
It’s a reasonable assumption that McDaniels will be a head coach somewhere next season. His second opportunity has been long overdue.
“I definitely said it before and I’ll say it again. I definitely would love to be a head coach again,” McDaniels said in November of 2016. “There are only 32 of those in the world. They’re opportunities that don’t come along very often, and if you would ever be so fortunate and blessed to have another opportunity to do it, and for myself it would be for a second time, it would be an opportunity that I would look forward to.”
That opportunity may finally be on the horizon. Some speculated that McDaniels ideally would want to take over for Belichick once he retires. However, that does not look like it will happen anytime soon. So where could McDaniels ultimately end up?
Before the trade of Jimmy Garoppolo, the two were seen as a potential package deal. Now, with Garoppolo in San Francisco with new coach Kyle Shanahan, it is unlikely the two reunite. Unless, of course, the 49ers somehow don’t resign Garoppolo. Another potential package deal involving McDaniels could be in play. Except, this won’t involve another player but an executive.
The Giants became the first team to fire their head coach this season when they relieved Ben McAdoo of his duties. In addition, they sent general manager, Jerry Reese, packing as the Giants have vastly underwhelmed this season. This has opened the door for McDaniels and perhaps Patriots Director of Player Personel, Nick Caserio, to possibly fill both positions. Caserio’s name has come up in the past as a future general manager candidate and what better scenario than to go to a team with a coach you have grown with.
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Despite the lackluster season, the Giants still represents one of the better job openings at the moment. Others may open up as we approach ‘Black Monday’, the annual purge on the previous season’s coaches. Other potential destinations for McDaniels could be with the Bears, Colts, or Lions. All of which have young, promising quarterbacks but lack the coach to take them to the next level. McDaniels could be that guy.
For now, the Patriots have potentially six games remaining on the schedule. Three left in the regular season and potentially three in the postseason. It is more probable than not that these will be the final games for Josh McDaniels as a member of the Patriots coaching staff. Until then, it’s all about the Steelers matchup in three short days.