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NFL head coaching primer: Who is Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels?

Related: Browns request interview with Josh McDaniels; Panthers also interested

New York Jets v New England Patriots Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

With head coach firing season underway, assistants all over the league get suddenly thrown into the spot light: many of them will fill the spots that have been vacated over the last two days. One of the most popular names, at least when it comes to interview requests, once again projects to be Josh McDaniels. The Cleveland Browns have already asked for the New England Patriots’ permission to speak to their offensive coordinator, with the Carolina Panthers expected to do the same soon.

But who is McDaniels, and why is he such a popular head coaching candidate in the NFL? Let’s find out.

What is McDaniels’ role with the Patriots?

Since 2012, McDaniels is serving not just as New England’s offensive coordinator and in-game play caller for the unit but also as its quarterback coach — a dual-role he previously also held between the 2006 and 2008 seasons. As was the case back then, the 43-year-old is working closely with Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick and is instrumental in creating and installing the offensive game plan week-in and week-out.

What is McDaniels’ personal background?

McDaniels grew up in Ohio — an hour outside of Cleveland, for that matter — and has coaching in his blood: his father Thom served as a high school coach around Ohio for 40 years and was named National High School Coach of the Year by USA Today in 1997. His son followed his footsteps and after playing quarterback under him joined John Carroll as a wide receiver in 1995. In 1999, he started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State.

What is McDaniels’ coaching background?

In 2001, McDaniels came to New England and climbed up the organizational ladder rather quickly. He served as a personnel assistant in his first season before being promoted to defensive assistant in 2002. By 2004, McDaniels was serving as the team’s quarterbacks coach under then-offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. When Weis left the team, McDaniels took over as offensive play caller before officially being promoted to coordinator in 2006. After three seasons, he joined the Denver Broncos as their head coach before getting fired halfway through the 2010 season. After a one-year stint as the St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator, McDaniels returned to New England in his old role.

What are McDaniels’ duties in New England?

McDaniels’ titles — offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach — already reveal his responsibilities: he is leading the offensive staff, calling plays, working closely with the Patriots’ quarterbacks, and preparing the game plans on a weekly basis. How big of a role does he play when it comes to game-planning? According to Bill Belichick, it is substantial: “I give him a little bit of input, but 90 to 95 percent is his plan, his vision. Rarely do we see things that differently.”

How is the Patriots’ offense performing under McDaniels?

The NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, and this does not bode too well for McDaniels. After all, New England’s offense has struggled with consistency for much of the season and projects to be the team’s Achilles heel heading into the playoffs. Nevertheless, his past success speaks for itself: under McDaniels, the Patriots led the league in scoring three times and never once finished outside the top-eight — all while he coordinated three Super Bowl-winning squads.