This week's Gillette NFL Debate focused on the following question: which coach would you feel most comfortable with leading your team in to the playoffs?
I decided we can debate a little tangent off of that - since I'm pretty sure any Patriots fan would pick Bill Belichick. What I'm interested to hear, is which Patriots assistant coach would you feel most comfortable leading the Patriots if Bill Belichick weren't around?
The four candidates that immediately come to my mind:
Josh McDaniels, Offensive Coordinator: McDaniels, in his second stint with the team, has the Patriots offense was again on the verge of breaking the NFL's all-time scoring record. He's young, he's enthusiastic, he's smart. Unfortunately for McDaniels, things didn't work out for him in his one NFL head coaching stint in Denver. However, it could be argued that he was never really given a fair shake.
Matt Patricia, Defensive Coordinator: Patricia started his stint with the Patriots as an offensive assistant, before becoming an assistant offensive line coach. Since then, he's worked on the defensive side of the ball, and is thought of by many as quite the football mind. Of course, the Patriots defense hasn't exactly been elite since Patricia started calling the plays. Nonetheless, Patricia is seen by many as a potential head coach down the line.
Dante Scarnecchia, Offensive Line / Assistant Head Coach: Scarnecchia is the lone holdover on the Patriots' coaching staff from before the Bill Belichick era. He's been with the Patriots every year since 1982, minus the 1989 and 1990 seasons. He is arguably the greatest offensive line coach of all time, but has never gotten a try higher on the coaching ladder. Certainly knowledgable about the game, would you feel comfortable about Scarnecchia as head coach of the Patriots?
Pepper Johnson, Linebackers: Johnson began his coaching career with the Patriots in 2000 as an Assistant Linebackers coach, and has worked with the linebackers and the defensive line ever since. Johnson has been seen by many around the league as a coordinator candidate, yet the Patriots have passed him up twice. Nonetheless, Johnson is seen by many as a hand on player who has one thing that no other candidate on the Patriots roster has: experience playing under Bill Belichick. And he has a ton of it.