While his former team is preparing for what might be a tumultuous offseason, Brendan Daly is enjoying his fourth straight trip to the Super Bowl. Now a part of the Kansas City Chiefs’ coaching staff, Daly spent the last five seasons with the New England Patriots — a tremendously successful stint: after he joined the team from the Minnesota Vikings in 2014, Daly went on to earn three championship rings while working in New England.
After the Patriots’ Super Bowl win last season, however, Daly opted to move on from his position as the team’s defensive line coach to take on a job with the Chiefs. Now coaching Kansas City’s D-line while also working as the team’s defensive run game coordinator, the 44-year-old played a big role in the Chiefs winning the AFC for the first time in half a century. As a result, he is now in a position to add to his personal trophy case.
But why did he leave New England in the first case? According to the man himself, there were numerous factors at play as he pointed out at the Super Bowl 54 Opening Night in Miami on Monday (transcript via NESN’s Doug Kyed).
“There were a number of factors,” Daly said. “It was a very difficult decision for me. My time there was so special, and my respect for Coach Belichick and the organization and the people there is second to none. There were a lot of factors and a lot of things that kind of happened at the right time in the right situation, and here I am. I’m happy to be here. I’m excited about the opportunity to play in this game again, for sure.”
What those factors mentioned by Daly were can only be speculated about from this perspective, but the Patriots’ succession plan at defensive coordinator may have played a role in his decision to leave Foxborough after five years: following the departure of defensive play caller/linebackers coach Brian Flores to the Miami Dolphins, head coach Bill Belichick did not turn to Daly to take over but instead brought Greg Schiano on board.
What happened next is well-known: Schiano re-signed from his position a short time after joining the Patriots, leaving Belichick with no assistant to coordinate the unit considering that Daly had already packed his bags and moved on to Kansas City. With Belichick, Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick at the helm, New England was just fine on the defensive side of the ball in 2019 but it was not enough to help the team reach its fourth straight Super Bowl.
Instead, Daly is now preparing his unit — one that includes short-time Patriot Mike Pennel — to take on the San Francisco 49ers on the game’s biggest stage. But while him taking a trip to the Super Bowl has not changed compared to the last few years, his role within the organization employing him has as he pointed out on Monday.
“Your responsibilities, what you’re asked to do in terms of game-plan, in terms of day-to-day things have changed a little bit,” said Daly. “A lot of it is similar. I think just understanding how the organization operates and what the head coach wants, there’s certainly some differences there. Your role changes, and that’s your duty as an assistant coach is to figure out what the head coach wants and what the coordinators want and then do the best that you can to accommodate that.”
Daly, of course, is not the only Chiefs assistant that has a history with the Patriots: Greg Lewis, who is coaching one of the most talented wide receiver corps in all of football, spent the 2009 offseason in New England before being released on roster cutdown day. Like Daly, he eventually found his way to Kansas City — and the Super Bowl.