Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

Sunday 7: Josh McDaniels staying in New England saved Bill Belichick from most challenging offseason of his career

Ryan Hannable
February 11, 2018 - 6:00 am

1. The entire complexity of the Patriots offseason changed Tuesday night when Josh McDaniels decided to change his mind and return to New England instead of going to Indianapolis. If he would have left, it would have meant special teams coach Joe Judge would have followed, as well as assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski. Bill Belichick would have been forced to fill four positions on the staff with Matt Patricia leaving for Detroit as well, and that isn’t even counting offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and running backs coach Ivan Fears, both of whom may still retire. If all that happened, this may have been even more challenging than before the 2005 season when coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel left, just because of everything else going on within the organization. Not only does the coach have to deal with the coaching staff, but Belichick still had/has to settle the reported tension between he, Tom Brady and Robert Kraft. Having McDaniels back likely eases that tension, especially with Brady, as the two are as close as anyone in the organization. McDaniels serves as a buffer between the two in a sense if anything were to truly become a serious issue. Not to mention, the head coach is 65 years old. Most people this age are planning their retirements and making tee-times, not completely reconstructing coaching staffs. McDaniels returning is great for the offense and the future of the organization, but it also saved Belichick from a lot of work.

2. Another factor to consider as it relates to McDaniels returning to New England is Nick Caserio. It’s apparent how close the two are, dating back to being college teammates at John Carroll University. If the 49ers would have wanted Caserio last January, it would not have been a surprise to have seen the two head west together. Something to consider is one person close to McDaniels said he and Caserio have always wanted to work together as a coach-GM tandem. Getting confirmation of how much the Patriots organization values him and committing to him for a long time, may have triggered a thought in McDaniels’ head that one day this may become a reality. McDaniels appears to be the No. 1 candidate to replace Belichick as head coach whenever that day comes, and Caserio already is essentially the Patriots’ general manager, just without the title and Belichick having the ability to have the ultimate final say with decisions.

3. After initially thinking McDaniels wouldn’t be able to get another head-coaching job in the NFL after leaving the Colts at the alter, our thinking on that has changed a bit. Certainly, what he did was a bad look and not only impacted the Colts, but the three assistants who took jobs expecting to work for McDaniels. With that being said, there are a number of Patriots connections across the NFL, who likely would still take a chance on McDaniels, and also time heals all wounds. Say in five years if a team identities McDaniels as a top candidate, it’s likely what he did this week will not impact things that much. For what it’s worth, there isn’t any other explanation as to why he changed his mind except for one day he expects to be the next head coach of the Patriots.

4. After re-watching Super Bowl LII, aside from Malcolm Butler, another questionable coaching decision came up as rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise played just six snaps, which a few others have already noted. The defense didn’t record a single sack and didn’t put much pressure on Nick Foles the entire game, so why didn’t Wise get more playing time to help potentially change that? There isn’t really a known explanation, although it is worth pointing out he suffered a concussion in the AFC title game and missed several practices in Foxboro the week before the team traveled to Minnesota. Perhaps, this had something to do with the decreased role.

5. Matt Patricia was very impressive during his introductory press conference with the Lions. Shortly thereafter, it was announced general manager Bob Quinn signed a five-year contract extension, so the two are on the same length of deals. While Patricia said all the right things and came across very strong, it will be interesting to see how he acts after losses and when he faces criticism next season. As it relates to how he acted after Super Bowl LII and the non-answers to the Butler questions, it’s hard to criticize him for it. He likely didn’t have a say in the matter, as it was a decision which came from above him.

6. Appearing on Pardon My Take this week, Eagles tackle Lane Johnson ripped the way the Patriots do things, and implied the players on the team don’t have any fun. “I just think that the Patriot Way is a fear-based organization,” Johnson said. “Obviously, do they win? Hell yes, they win. They’ve won for a long time. Do I think people enjoy [it] and can say, ‘I had a lot of fun playing there’? No, I don’t. That’s just the God’s honest truth. They’re successful, but when they go to interviews, they act like [expletive] robots. Hey, stop being a [expletive]. We can be cordial for a little bit. You only get to do this job one time, so let’s have fun while we’re doing it. Not to be reckless, but I’d much rather have fun and win a Super Bowl than be miserable and win five Super Bowls. But hey, it is what it is.”

7. The Patriots will almost certainly be looking to draft their quarterback of the future in April’s draft. One of the biggest issues they will face is there appear to be three quarterbacks who will be taken in the top 10 — Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen — and there’s a pretty big drop off after that. New England will have its work cut out identifying which one to select. This will be a major topic of discussion this offseason and will really start to become a big talker at the NFL combine at the end of the month.

Comments ()