Josh McDaniels Sticking With Patriots Avoids Mad Scramble For New OC

The Patriots didn't have an obvious candidate to replace McDaniels


January 21, 2021

No matter how you feel about Josh McDaniels, it’s good news for the Patriots that New England’s offensive coordinator wasn’t hired away as the Philadelphia Eagles’ new head coach.

The Eagles instead reportedly are hiring Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni.

It’s kind of amazing that McDaniels has his fair share of detractors in New England’s fan base after being part of the Patriots’ last nine Super Bowl appearances — and offensive coordinator in their last three wins — but the haters are easy to find.

The Patriots’ offense struggled under McDaniels in 2020 after quarterback Tom Brady left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England signed Cam Newton to replace him at QB. The Patriots went run-heavy and safe with Newton under center, and the offense sputtered. That has not been the case for most of McDaniels’ tenure in New England.

It’s recency bias to hope McDaniels gets hired away when there are plenty of years of high-powered offenses and championship performances on the OC’s résumé.

And the best part about McDaniels staying put, from a Patriots perspective, is that New England doesn’t suddenly need to go shopping the day before a storm and hope to find an offensive coordinator in the milk cooler.

The top candidates to replace McDaniels were tight ends coach Nick Caley, Cleveland Browns wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea and possibly former Miami Dolphins and New York Jets head coach Adam Gase. ESPN’s Mike Reiss even recently raised the possibility that ex-Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia could be re-hired as an offensive coordinator.

That’s where the Patriots stood.

So, this at least gives the Patriots another year to figure out what they would do if McDaniels leaves.

Could they have planned better up to this point? Not really.

The Patriots had Jedd Fisch waiting in the wings as quarterbacks coach in 2020 before he was hired away by the University of Arizona to be its new head coach.

Joe Judge looked like the next offensive coordinator before he took the New York Giants’ head coaching job last offseason.

O’Shea previously was the OC-in-waiting before getting hired as the Miami Dolphins’ play-caller in 2019. (He was fired by Miami after one season.)

The Patriots also lost assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski in the 2019 offseason.

The Patriots would be wise to either promote one of their internal assistants — probably either Caley or wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi — up to quarterbacks coach or to make an outside hire at that role, with Gase or someone else, to prevent this fretting in the future.

Then, the Patriots would have to hope that coach doesn’t get hired away to be the head coach of a desperate Power 5 college next offseason.

One final positive for the Patriots about McDaniels staying is that if he left, head coach Bill Belichick probably would have been forced to devote more time to the offense, leaving outside linebackers coach Stephen Belichick and inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo (who also was up for the Eagles job) to lead the defense. The Patriots also could have brought Patricia back on board to help out on defense.

Wanting new and shiny things is understandable. But McDaniels is a very good offensive coordinator, and New England’s offense could have been in rough shape if he left for a promotion elsewhere.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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