New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been one of the hot ticket coaching options the past few offseasons, turning down jobs with both the Browns and 49ers because he didn't like their ownership structure.
McDaniels has led one of the most potent offensive units in NFL history with the Patriots and his creativity has earned notice around the league. His 2014 playoff run was one of the most impressive of all time and it's likely that he'll be at the top of all the coaching wish lists this offseason.
The coordinator is currently just 39-years-old, 9 years younger than Bill Belichick when the head coach took over the Patriots in 2000. Former Patriots offensive coordinator, and current Texans head coach, Bill O'Brien believes that McDaniels deserves another shot to lead a team.
"I think so, yeah," O'Brien said via the Houston Chronicle. "He is a great football coach, very bright guy, good leader, yes."
McDaniels has grown a lot since his first head coaching opportunity with the Broncos and he should be far better able to lead now.
"[I learned] the people that you work with and for are so important to you," McDaniels said during the 2014 Super Bowl media week. "Your ability to not only to set the path, but to also be a great listener - I've said that numerous times now. That's an important part of being a leader, listening to the people that are around you.
"I think, sometimes, when you're young, you don't really understand that the same as when you go through experience like that. It was a great learning experience for me. I think I'm a better person, a better father and a better coach because of all the adversities and all the challenges that I've gone through and I hope I can continue to get better in all those roles going forward."
The Dolphins and the Titans have already fired their head coaches, and back in October, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was the most likely to be fired, followed by Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, and Washington head coach Jay Gruden.
Of the teams with coaches on the hot seat, the Lions, Colts, and Jaguars are the only teams with franchise quarterbacks. It's unlikely that McDaniels will go to Indianapolis, while the Jacksonville ownership has already voiced their support for Bradley. The Browns, 49ers, and Rams are also likely to be on the market, but all three are very familiar with McDaniels through past interviews and roles.
The Lions have 27-year-old Matthew Stafford, receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, and a stable of capable running backs, but a defense reeling from the loss of their star defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. The Detroit ownership is currently behind Martha Ford, who took over during the 2014 offseason and just fired the Lions general manager this week. This would be a great team for McDaniels to coach if the job were available.
Hopefully McDaniels can follow the footsteps of O'Brien by taking over a team and immediately challenging for a divisional title.