The New England Patriots appear to be in no hurry to name an offensive coordinator.

Could the Patriots be waiting for a domino to fall regarding Bill Belichick possibly coaching the Falcons and bringing current and past Patriots assistants with him to Atlanta?

The Athletic’s NFL insider Jeff Howe isn’t ruling that out and believes Atlanta’s decision on Belichick could ultimately decide what direction the Patriots go in when selecting their next offensive coordinator.

“If Belichick gets the Falcons job, I think there’s a very strong chance he brings (Josh) McDaniels with him,” Howe told Andrew Callahan on Tuesday’s “Pats Interference” podcast. “If Belichick doesn’t get the Falcons job, McDaniels probably jumps to the top of the list for the Patriots.”

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McDaniels, who was fired by the Raiders during the middle of this season, of course has deep ties to the Patriots, having served as New England’s offensive coordinator for 13 seasons over two stints.

That familiarity and his success in that role with the Patriots makes him a viable option to return with Jerod Mayo taking over. But other reports have suggested that McDaniels and the Patriots aren’t headed for a reunion. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer even floated that McDaniels could join the Texans if current Houston offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik gets a head coaching gig.

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But the Patriots tabbing McDaniels likely means the Patriots would stick with an offensive system that has worked for them in the past — it has completely fallen flat the last two seasons with McDaniels in Las Vegas — over a Sean McVay-type system that is all the rage in today’s NFL.

The Patriots have interviewed two McVay understudies in Rams tight ends coach Nick Caley, who spent eight seasons with New England, and Rams quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Zac Robinson, giving way that the Patriots offense may go in a completely different direction under Mayo. The Patriots also reportedly spoke with Dan Pitcher for their OC opening, but he ended up taking a promotion to stay with the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Howe clearly sees one of those coaches above the rest when it comes to the Patriots choosing who will run their offense.

“Zac Robinson is a guy who definitely has OC potential, and is I would say the most qualified of that three at least so far,” Howe said. “And as the passing game coordinator with the Rams you’re coming from a really well coached team for about a half decade I guess, and would be a very good hire.”

Caley seemed in line to potentially be New England’s offensive coordinator in 2022 before Belichick made the bizarre decision to give the job to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. Howe said Caley was highly regarded then and being involved in the passing and run games as the team’s tight ends coach helped his cause.

But now, it appears his candidacy has taken a little bit of a hit.

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“I’ve spoken to people recently who wonder what is his potential as coordinator,” Howe said. “It’s more of a mystery because he hasn’t had a chance to do it, hasn’t had a chance to call plays. I guess everybody has to start somewhere of course. So a little more of an unknown candidate.”

While the Patriots have had interviews on the books, they will still need to interview at least one external minority candidate to satisfy the Rooney Rule before naming an offensive coordinator.

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