With Jedd Fisch becoming the next head coach at the University of Arizona, the New England Patriots needed to find a new quarterbacks coach. It apparently did not take them long to do just that, however: as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels revealed in a media conference call on Saturday, he will handle Fisch’s former duties.
The final two weeks of the Patriots’ regular season — at 6-8 they are already eliminated from postseason contention — will therefore see McDaniels serve in a dual role. That is nothing new for him, though, considering that he served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the last eight seasons before Fisch’s arrival earlier this year.
“I’ll just do what I’ve done most of the time I’ve been here. I’ll take that responsibility back, all the quarterback meetings, tip sheets, those kind of things,” said McDaniels. “[Jedd Fisch] and I worked together on a lot of that stuff. He certainly did a lot of work on his own without me, but we worked together with that group and that position group, so it won’t be completely unorthodox here for those guys the final two weeks.
“We’ll be able to handle that kind of the way most of my career has gone here.”
McDaniels first arrived in New England as a personnel assistant in 2001 and by 2004 had earned the title of quarterbacks coach — one he held even after being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2006. Following three seasons spent in Denver and St. Louis, he returned and in 2012 resumed his former role working with both the offense as a whole and the quarterback position in particular.
While the title was always McDaniels’ he did have some assistants along the way, beginning with Jerry Schuplinski in 2016.
“Having a guy that you trust in that role to be able to function and communicate well, prepare the quarterbacks, watch the tape with them, go through the cut-ups, the reminders, run game, pass game, protection, et cetera, it’s a big help. There’s no question about it,” said McDaniels. “The first part of my career here, I really didn’t have anybody to help with that stuff.
“Then we added Jerry Schuplinski, and then Mick Lombardi, and then Jedd was named actually the quarterback coach, and deservedly so. Those guys have been a great help and a great addition to our staff. I have a lot of confidence in that position with those three guys that I just mentioned, and the quarterbacks would tell you the same thing. It just gives you a lot of time back — if you can use it — that you wouldn’t otherwise have.”
Schuplinski held the role of assistant quarterbacks coach for three seasons before leaving to join Brian Flores’ staff in Miami after the 2018 season. Lombardi took over in 2019, but has since changed roles to work with New England’s wide receivers. Fisch succeeded him in early 2020, but he did not even last a full season in the position after taking over at Arizona.
As a result, McDaniels now has to move back into his old gig for the final two games of the season versus the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. True to the Patriots’ “next man up” mantra, however, the 44-year-old seems to be willing to take the opportunity in stride.
“I may sleep a little less here the last nine days of the season, but that’s not a big deal,” said McDaniels. “I’ll sleep when the season’s over.”
The Patriots’ season will officially be over after the game against the Jets on January 3rd. Then, the club will have to make some major decisions not just at the quarterback position itself but also when it comes to who will work closest with the group.