Entering the offseason, chances looked good that this would be the year Josh McDaniels would finally leave the New England Patriots after serving as their offensive coordinator since 2012. With the Carolina Panthers hiring Baylor’s Matt Rhule and the New York Giants brining now-former Patriots special teams/wide receivers coach Joe Judge on board, however, only one job remained less than a week after the Patriots’ season had ended.
McDaniels was seen as one of the favorites to become the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns and interviewed with the organization on Friday. Two days later, however, the team announced that it went a different route: the Browns will hire Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski to fill the vacant role, all but ensuring that McDaniel will return to the Patriots for yet another season as their own offensive play-caller.
This is good news for the team for four main reasons:
Reason No. 1: Stability of the coaching staff
As noted above, the Patriots’ coaching staff already suffered one departure this offseason, when the Giants hired Joe Judge as their next head coach — a move that created two openings in New England. While Judge’s special teams role is expected to get filled by his former assistant Cam Achord, the wide receiver position appears to be up in the air at the moment and with no clear succession plan appearing to be in place.
Ex-wideouts coach Chad O’Shea, 2019 coaching assistant Troy Brown, and even former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh are all seen as potential replacements for Judge when it comes to coaching the wide receivers. But while the dust still needs to settle on the position, the Patriots now know that they will not have to worry about finding a new assistant coach even higher up the food chain.
With McDaniels likely staying in New England, the Patriots will not have to worry about more turnover among their coaches or any additional departures created by the 43-year-old assembling his staff with the Browns.
Reason No. 2: Stability of the front office
McDaniels leaving to take over the Browns would not just have had an impact on the coaching staff and possibly the quarterback situation as well, but might have also changed the Patriots’ front office. After all, there were rumors that he would have brought New England’s director of pro personnel, Dave Ziegler, with him to Cleveland as the team’s next general manager. Ziegler leaving the team this year, however, seems unlikely now.
This is especially important for the organization as the contracts of both Nick Caserio (director of player personnel) and Monti Ossenfort (director of college scouting) are set to expire this spring. Keeping him around ensures some stability in this area as well.
Reason No. 3: Tom Brady and the quarterback situation
While Tom Brady’s future remains up in the air — he is scheduled to enter free agency in March for the first time in his Hall of Fame career — McDaniels staying in New England is expected to be a factor when it comes to his decision about a potential return. After all, the two have worked closely alongside each other in 13 of Brady’s 19 seasons as the Patriots’ starting quarterback while this stability turned into a major asset for the organization.
The impact of McDaniels not becoming the Browns’ new head coach extends beyond Brady, however. After all, the team also has two developmental options on its roster in 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham and former third-round selection Cody Kessler. The long-time quarterbacks coach — McDaniels fills this role as well in New England — likely staying in place can only be beneficial when it comes to the development of the two young passers.
Reason No. 4: The Belichick succession plan
Granted, we are entering a speculative zone here, but McDaniels not getting a head coaching position despite three realistic openings has to leave one wondering about his future — and whether or not his best course of action would simply be to stay in New England as a potential heir to head coach Bill Belichick. The 67-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down, of course, but things could look differently in the not-so-distant future.
McDaniels would be an attractive fall-back option as head coach in case Belichick ever decides to call it quits. Luckily for the Patriots, however, they will not have to worry about this scenario yet — just as they do not have to worry about Belichick’s right-hand man leaving to take over the Browns.