New England Patriots: What Josh McDaniels’ potential departure means

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

For a moment, it looked like New England Patriots were going to escape the head coaching craze in the NFL without any casualties. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.

Reports came out yesterday afternoon that Patriots offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, has emerged as the Las Vegas Raiders top candidate for their head coaching vacancy. This was after another report stated that McDaniels had actually fallen out of the running for the same job. Whatever the cause for the chaos in Vegas right now, McDaniels has an interview today with the Raiders, and they may not allow him leave without a deal in place.

While many NFL fans are focused on the possibility of McDaniels taking charge of a potent Raiders team, the longtime Pats offensive coordinator’s departure would deal a blow to New England’s up-and-coming offense. While nothing is set in stone as of the time of this writing, let’s take a look at what McDaniels’ potential departure would mean for the Patriots.

Josh McDaniels’ departure would hurt the New England Patriots

While we are all quick to complain about McDaniels’ cute playcalling from time-to-time (myself included), he has clearly become a great resource for not just New England’s offense, but the rest of the team as well. McDaniels initially rose through the Patriots coaching ranks on the defensive side of things before transitioning to offense, and his experience with the organization was clearly a huge help as the team transitioned out of the Tom Brady era these past two seasons.

McDaniels has a firm grip on the Patriots offense, and nobody benefitted from that more than rookie quarterback Mac Jones this past season. The two were often spotted working together throughout games, making adjustments to help the offense get rolling. McDaniels experience with the offense helped him ease Jones into the NFL, but he also knew when to let go of the reigns from time to time too.

Taking away one of Jones’ top teachers of the Patriots offense would certainly hurt on its own, but it would also force Jones to adapt to a new offensive scheme in just his second season in the league. Maybe it would help his development, but continuity has been one of the calling cards of New England’s long run a top the NFL.

We have seen countless young quarterbacks struggle through constant regime changes early in their career, and there’s a chance the same thing could happen to Jones here if McDaniels packs up shop and heads out west. Football is all relative in a sense, but having continuity, especially in the early stages of your career as a quarterback, is something that cannot be overlooked.

While the overall consensus is that McDaniels leaving would hurt the Patriots, there’s also a sense that this may the right time for him to go. The Pats offense felt way too conservative at times last season, and oftentimes when Jones was required to air the ball out to erase a large deficit (think losses against the Indianapolis Colts or Miami Dolphins) the offense would finally open up. McDaniels was clearly trying to protect his rookie QB, but maybe it wasn’t always necessary.

And we may just find out whether or not it was. Rumor has it that if McDaniels does end up taking the Raiders job, the New England Patriots will lock in on Bill O’Brien as his replacement. In case you forgot, O’Brien become the offensive play-caller for the Pats after McDaniels left to take the Denver Broncos head coaching gig in 2009. Bringing back O’Brien would offer a sense of continuity in a couple of ways.

For starters, he already has some experience in the Patriots system. He doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring to his name, but he coached some deadly offenses during his previous time with New England. The Pats offense in 2010 was easily their second best unit behind the 2007 group that took the league by storm.

Secondly, O’Brien just spent the 2021 season as the offensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide, which just so happens to be Jones’ alma mater. If O’Brien were brought in to replace McDaniels, you can bet he would bring over some of the concepts from Alabama’s offense that Jones liked and implement them into the Patriots offense. O’Brien is a more aggressive playcaller than McDaniels, which may also help Jones make a big leap in his second season.

Next. This Patriots team needs a haircut and a makeover. dark

This is whole scenario may be a bit far down the line, but assuming McDaniels interview goes well today, all signs point to him becoming the Raiders new head coach. It would be tough to watch McDaniels go; after all, he played a big part in the second half of the Patriots dynasty. But there’s a new era of football in Foxboro, and while losing McDaniels would be less than ideal, it may open up the New England Patriots offense in a way we haven’t seen in awhile.