There’s still a month left in the 2018 NFL regular season, and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels already is being linked to head-coaching vacancies.
McDaniels, who interviewed for head-coaching gigs in each of the last two years and nearly took the Indianapolis Colts job last February before backing out, has been mentioned as a potential successor to Mike McCarthy after the Green Bay Packers fired their longtime bench boss Sunday afternoon.
The Cleveland Browns — McDaniels’ hometown team and the employer of this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, Baker Mayfield — also have an opening after canning Hue Jackson last month.
McDaniels sidestepped these rumors during a conference call Tuesday morning, saying his only focus is on New England’s upcoming road matchup with the Miami Dolphins, who have defeated the Patriots in four of their last five visits to South Florida.
“I don’t really worry about the future,” McDaniels said. “Honestly, each week is a tremendous challenge. We try to stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand, which this week is obviously considerable considering that we haven’t had a lot of success down there. This is a big challenge for us. I didn’t do nearly well enough in my role and my job last year when we went down there to Miami (a 27-20 Patriots loss), so there’s a lot for us to look at and a great defense for us to go down there and face, where they play extremely well at home.
“All the other stuff is just — it is what it is. I don’t really pay too much attention to it. I love what we do here in terms of working hard to try to come up with the best plan for our players each week, and that’s where our focus is going to remain.”
McDaniels, who flopped as the Denver Broncos head coach in 2009 and 2010 and was fired midway through his second season, faced intense criticism after leaving the Colts at the altar to remain with the Patriots in the wake of Super Bowl LII. In the months that followed, the 42-year-old said he still desired to be a head coach again one day, which he effectively reiterated Tuesday.
“If that’s in the cards for me, then that’s great,” McDaniels said. “I’ve said that before. But again, I’m not worried about that right now.”
Patriots de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores also is likely to receive interest from teams in the coming weeks. He interviewed for Arizona’s head-coaching position last year and reportedly made a strong impression on the Cardinals brass.
The Patriots currently sit in second place in the AFC at 9-3. They can clinch their 10th consecutive AFC East title with a win or tie Sunday in Miami.
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