Hannable: Josh McDaniels’ decision over next few weeks will be telling for future of Patriots


Here we are again, another year of the NFL head-coaching carousel and the Patriots coordinators are right in the middle of it.

With eight head-coaching openings, plenty of people are being considered -- some new and some more of the same. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reportedly has interest from the Packers and Bengals, while defensive coordinator Brian Flores reportedly has had the Packers, Browns, Broncos and Dolphins all reach out.

From this viewpoint, Flores isn’t ready as it was his first year calling plays, but his time will certainly come and he will always be considered until he takes a job. The bigger question is if McDaniels will actually leave after many years of interviewing? Whether he does or not will give a good glimpse into the future of the Patriots.

McDaniels left the Colts at the altar last year to remain in New England, and by making such a last second decision, it was clear something happened in New England to keep him around. Was it an agreement he would become the next coach whenever Bill Belichick retires? Maybe he was told Belichick was planning on stepping away sooner rather than later.

No matter what it was, it brings us to now.

McDaniels has received interest from the Packers and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Browns become interested as well. Those are arguably the best jobs available, and when it comes to the Patriots offensive coordinator’s thinking, it is all about making sure the next job he takes gives him the best chance to succeed because NFL coaches rarely get third opportunities (he already failed in Denver). 

As it relates to things this year, there may not ever be a situation better than what there is in Green Bay or in Cleveland.

Sure, in Green Bay there are concerns with ownership getting too involved in football operations matters, but there is never going to be a perfect situation around the league. It just doesn’t work like that. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, the most skilled quarterback in the league for at least four or so years, and they are also one of the most iconic franchises in the entire sport. Winning in Green Bay is different than winning in most other places.

Cleveland is in a much better position than it was when he interviewed in 2014, as it finally has a quarterback in Baker Mayfield, someone McDaniels apparently loved heading into the draft last season. Also, McDaniels grew up in the area and still has family there, so it would be a homecoming of sorts.

McDaniels has interviewed for many jobs over the last several years, but ultimately has never accepted. If he doesn’t this year, it becomes more and more clear the plan is for him to succeed Belichick because he simply won’t have a better opportunity than he did last year with the Colts or his two options this year.

The coordinator leaving would indicate he believes Belichick has at least several more years left in him, and that wouldn’t be all that surprising. He’s in a great place where he has his two sons on staff and has complete control of the organization. It is an ideal situation and the 66-year-old has given no indication he plans on stepping away any time soon. 

But, if McDaniels does indeed remain in New England, he stays in one of the best positions in the entire league — working with Tom Brady on a daily basis — but it also sets him up to replace the best coach ever to coach the game. The amount of pressure involved in that would be off the charts, but it would be in a place he and his family know extremely well.

Everything is completely up to McDaniels. He holds all the cards and ultimately can make the decision he wants. But, unlike in past years, his decision to stay or leave has much more long-term implications and will indicate where the Patriots will be going at head coach for the years to come.