New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are going to become head coaches in the NFL; it’s just a matter of when. Both have received consideration over the past few offseasons and their demand should be greater than ever before when the 2017 season is in the books.
Both have their strengths as excellent playcallers. They’re flexible and versatile, able to change their strategy one a quarter-to-quarter basis, never mind a weekly game plan. They’re focused on improvements every week and they understand the big picture goals of the organization.
They both also believe in the importance of developing relationships with their players and staff.
“When I decided to get into coaching and leave engineering one of the things I just really missed about the game of football and when you're involved in the game itself is that camaraderie, that ability to be around the team atmosphere and the guys that you played with,” Patricia said on Tuesday. “Then when you make that transition to coaching I really found more enjoyment out of watching individuals achieve their goals and succeed. I actually found more enjoyment out of that than I did playing. I remember the moment that that happened to me and that transition where I just fell in love with coaching.
“My dad was a coach and I grew up with two parents that were teachers and that ability to help people and grow. The one thing I remember from college was our college coaches, especially at that point of a young man's life where it's a critical learning, critical developmental stage that you're leaning on coaches and people that are influential in your life like that. I just thought if I could be in that situation I really wanted to do anything I could to help them through life.
“So I think I've always taken that approach in my coaching career and obviously we coach at a very competitive high production level, but to me it's still about the personal relationship. It's still about getting to know them as individuals and caring about them as people first and foremost and their families and really honestly whatever I can do to help them from the standpoint of to be successful, whether it's on or off the field, is probably my number one priority. That's just kind of me in general I think.”
Patricia and McDaniels make a point of welcoming players on all levels and positional groups on the roster after each game and it’s the groundwork for a bond that they take seriously. Because when the players and coaches think the leaders of their team care about them, they’ll be more open to critiques or help or adjustments and the team as a whole will improve.
“I think it's important for them to understand how much you care about them personally and their well-being, not only as a football player but as a human being,” McDaniels said. “Any good relationship is going to start with your connection to the person and as long as they know how much you care, then they'll listen to what you have to say about helping them improve as a player and get better and be able to help your football team so that's important to me.
“I love the guys we have, I love the guys I work with, I love our staff and those guys understand that we're all in this together and have to work hard to try to maintain those relationships and ultimately produce on the field. That's what our job is.”
Patricia and McDaniels have held down their respective titles with the Patriots since the 2012 season and this could be the last year they work together. Hopefully the lessons they’ve learned will be passed down to the coaches that will take their positions and the cycle will continue in New England.
If I had to guess, I would project McDaniels to the New York Giants and Patricia to the Indianapolis Colts- mostly because I’m not sure if they’d want to take the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, or Chicago Bears jobs, but also because those look to be the best two openings for 2018.