Nov 11, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on the sideline during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Bills 37-31. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Marching on a pile of bones: The Josh McDaniels saga

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The New England Patriots are as a whole, one of the most secretive franchises in the NFL.

If it were up to them, there would be no injury report and press conferences would be more like declassified military briefings, complete with double-talk, cryptic code words and all manner of dark malfeasance.

So when any member of the organization offers information about anything more than ticket prices and game times, the tendency is to take said information with a grain of salt…and an antidote.

But what are we to make of Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels’ unsolicited claim that he will be with the Patriots in 2013?

One thought is that no matter what is actually going through his mind, he is saying this to quell rumors and eliminate distractions for the team as they make their run to the Super Bowl.  In this scenario, he well could be fielding offers, but deferring until after the Post season run is over to contemplate his next move.

You could cross Buffalo off of that list, as there is no way that he would pull a Mangini and bolt for a division rival – his relationship with Belichick and some of the players preclude that.

Also, there is the impatience of most owners and/or general managers to contend with.

Most smart GM’s and owners have already targeted the men that they want, and are ready to make solid offers, if they haven’t already.  How long some are willing to wait to fill that coaching vacancy remains to be seen, but we’ve already seen Andy Reid and Lovie Smith get interviews…and college coaches with the last name of Kelly are getting major interest.

The other school of thought suggests that McDaniels is sincere and will return.  Of course, intrigue is high and rumors have been flying out of that camp that McDaniels is the successor to Bill Belichick, possibly as early as 2014.

But before Bill Belichick offers up a cocktail napkin with his resignation written on it, many things need to be taken into account, not the least of which is sanity…because who in their right mind – let alone perhaps the greatest coach who ever prowled a sideline – would leave a team already considered the best in the land, yet is still on an upswing?

And then there is paternal instinct and responsibility.

This is Belichick’s baby.  He built this team into the most successful franchise in the history of the game.  The one image that the words “New England Patriots” conjures is that of Tom Brady together with Bill Belichick.  One without the other is as unimaginable as Joe Montana without Bill Walsh…and though that happened,  Belichick’s bond with Brady exceeds that 10 fold…and Belichick is going to see this through to the end.

Known as a defensive genius, there is also the fact that the Patriots sport the second youngest defense in the NFL and have many pieces in place to build a formidable, dominant defense.

There are two things that could change all of this.  a Ringie for the Pinkie and One for the thumb.

It’s going to take winning the Super Bowl this year and next for Belichick to hang up his whistle by 2014 – because Belichick isn’t the kind of man that goes out on top, he is the kind of man that goes out marching on a pile of bones, dominating as no coach has ever dominated this game.

After all, that’s how he came in.

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