Wild card weekend is a busy time in the NFL, not just for the teams that are playing: organizations already eliminated from playoff contention are given the chance to interview potential head coaching candidates. One of the most popular names on the market is once again New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has reportedly drawn interest from the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers.
McDaniels, who is in his tenth season calling the Patriots’ offensive shots, is the league’s highest-paid coordinator and apparently in no rush to leave New England. If an opportunity should come around to convince the 42-year old to change teams, however, the Patriots apparently try to be prepared as best they can to replace him — and according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio (via Dov Kleiman), they already have a potential successor in mind:
This year, the Patriots, I’m told, are preparing for McDaniels to leave with the Packers and the Browns being the two most viable opportunities for McDaniels this time around. So if he goes, who takes over for McDaniels? Keep an eye on USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. He’s only been there a month and he’s been blocked from interviewing for head coaching jobs. I’m told he may quit, pay a very low buyout and go back to pursue NFL opportunities.
One of those NFL opportunities might be taking over for McDaniels if he indeed leaves the Patriots in the upcoming weeks. Kingsbury, of course, would be an intriguing candidate — one that has a history in New England: the Patriots drafted him as a quarterback out of Texas Tech in 2003. The sixth-round selection spent only one year with the club and did not see any action after suffering to a season-ending arm injury.
After stints with the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets as well as in the NFL Europe and the CFL, Kingsbury’s playing career came to an end and he went into coaching. The now 39-year old started in Houston before becoming Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator in 2012. One year later, he went to his alma mater to serve as head coach. After six years and a 35-40 record, Texas Tech parted ways with Kingsbury in late November.
He then joined USC as its offensive coordinator but apparently is eying the NFL as his next destination. If Kingsbury indeed joins the Patriots he would be reunited in the quarterback room with Tom Brady, who was already the starting quarterback in 2003. Seeing a backup quarterback rise to offensive coordinator is nothing unusual, but doing it all with the same starter in place does probably not happen all too often.