Looking for a job as an NFL head coach? Claim you went to kindergarten with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay or become the New England Patriots’ defensive play-caller.
The Patriots reportedly will lose their defensive play-caller for the second time in as many winters. The Miami Dolphins reportedly have targeted Patriots linebackers coach and de-facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores as their next head coach.
Former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left the Patriots last offseason to become the Detroit Lions’ head coach.
So, who’s next in line behind Flores?
The top in-house option is defensive line coach Brendan Daly. If you’re looking for a hint as to who the Patriots consider their next potential coordinator, look no further than the sideline of their fourth preseason game.
Because current coordinators already are working on Week 1 of the regular season, the Patriots delegate play-calling duties in that game to other assistants. When Matt Patricia was defensive coordinator, Flores took over in the fourth game of the preseason.
On Aug. 30, 2018, Daly was calling defensive plays, and wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea was calling plays on offense.
Daly has been a member of the Patriots’ staff since 2014, when he joined as a defensive assistant but worked with defensive linemen. Daly has been the Patriots’ official defensive line coach since 2015. Prior to joining the Patriots, Daly had a lengthy resume.
After graduating from Drake University, where he played tight end, Daly coached for one year at Ridgewood High School in Florida (1997). He then went on to become tight ends coach at Drake (1998) and Villanova (1999), a graduate assistant at Maryland (2000) and Oklahoma State (2001-2002), assistant strength and conditioning coach at Oklahoma State (2003), tight ends coach at Illinois State 2004), defensive line coach at Villanova (2005), assistant defensive line coach with the Minnesota Vikings (2006-2008), defensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2009-2011) and defensive line coach with the Vikings (2012-2013).
Got all that? There will be a test. He worked with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for one year with the Rams and O’Shea for three years with the Vikings.
If Daly is truly viewed as next in line, he likely wouldn’t get the defensive coordinator title next season just as Flores didn’t receive it in 2018. DeMarcus Covington likely would take over as linebackers coach, and perhaps Bret Bielema and Joe Kim would stick around to continue working with Daly on the defensive line.
The No. 1 outside option is former Ohio State defensive coordinator and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick knows Schiano best from his days as Rutgers’ head coach from 2001 to 2011. He coached current and former Patriots defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty and Duron Harmon with the Scarlet Knights. He went 11-21 in two seasons with the Buccaneers, spent two years out of major football and joined Ohio State’s staff in 2016.
Schiano left Ohio State this offseason to pursue NFL opportunities. There were rumors last offseason that Schiano could replace Patricia as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator, but that obviously didn’t wind up happening.
If the Patriots want to keep the ball rolling next season, Daly, with more assistance from Belichick, might be the simplest option. But if the Patriots want more experience in the role, then Schiano would be the way to go.
The Patriots have options. They might not be quite as obvious as last year’s in Flores, but they’re always prepared. And Belichick certainly had an idea Flores could leave when he already was interviewing for head-coaching opportunities last winter.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images