The New England Patriots have had a lot of long-term coaches retire or move on to the other teams in the last few years. Their longtime offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels has also joined this list with his decision to take the head coaching job for the Las Vegas Raiders. This is not the first time that McDaniels has been highly sought after for taking over a team. Back in 2018, McDaniels had actually accepted the head coaching job for the Indianapolis Colts but retracted his decision and stayed with the Patriots. This lead many to believe that he was being groomed for the head coaching job when Bill Belichick decided to retire. Clearly, that was not the case. With McDaniels headed out west, Belichick and the Patriots have a major decision to make.
McDaniel’s Imprint in New England
McDaniels was present for a huge chunk of Tom Brady‘s career in New England including all six Super Bowls he won with the team. He was named the offensive coordinator in 2012 and he had held that title ever since. Last year, he helped bring the Patriots back to playoffs after missing the postseason in the 2020-21 season. He seemed to have built a very good relationship with a rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, and tailored the offense to fit his style of play. It looked as if the Patriots were really building something and on their way back to dominance before news broke that he was leaving New England.
This vacancy has the potential to derail all of the progress that the Patriots have made with Jones. Belichick needs to find the right person to fill that role. He needs to start thinking about who will take over when he decides to hang up the headset. Of course, it is not his job to make sure the Patriots are left in good hands after he retires, but Belichick is a very detail-oriented man and is a true competitor. That leads me to believe that he wants a say in the succession plan in the post-Belichick era. So who are the Patriots looking at to take over as the offensive coordinator?
Bringing Back a Familiar Face
The name that pops up the most in response to this question is Bill O’Brien. O’Brien’s most recent tenure in the NFL was a complete failure with the Houston Texans. However, there is reason to believe that this makes the most sense. This would not be O’Brien’s first experience with the team. He played a big part in creating the two tight end offenses that featured Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. He most recently spent the 2021 season as the offensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide. That season ended in a National Championship appearance and a Heisman Trophy for Alabama quarterback, Bryce Young. New England and Alabama run similar offensive schemes which would make the transition smooth for O’Brien. Ian Rapoport reported that there is a ‘mutual interest’ between O’Brien and the Patriots.
AFC East Veteran
Another name that has been floated around is Adam Gase. Gase, for all his troubles as a head coach, had an amazing career as the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos with Peyton Manning. This was the period in which Manning had his historical year, throwing for 55 touchdowns and almost 5500 yards. The question is, how much of that success was attributed to Gase and how much of it was Peyton Manning? His head coaching career was much less glamorous. He has a cumulative record of 32-48 as a head coach and was out of the league last year.
Dark Horse Candidate
One other name I would not rule out is Chad O’Shea. Patriots fans will remember O’Shea as the wide receivers coach for New England from 2009 until 2018. He was on the coaching staff for three super bowl wins and is already familiar with the system. O’Shea is currently the passing game coordinator for the Cleveland Browns after spending a year serving as the offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins. Despite being fired from that position after just one season, the experience compacted with the strong ties to New England makes Chad O’Shea a very viable candidate.
There are plenty of other names that have come up in this conversation, but these three feel like true possibilities. Belichick is open to the idea of bringing back his disciples into the coaching staff, as we’ve seen with Matt Patricia. The Patriots spent a lot of money last season to avoid a rebuild. They also struck gold and drafted Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick in last year’s draft. This is a very important hire for the development of Mac Jones and the offense. They made the playoffs last season and they need stability to build off of that.