The old “three strikes and you’re out” saying can be used in many circumstances, but it certainly applies to coaching in the National Football League.
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left the organization after the 2008 season and took the Denver Broncos’ head coaching job. He lasted just two-and-a-half seasons in Denver after posting a 15-29 record (and selecting Tim Tebow in the first round of the 2009 draft).
McDaniels made a quick pitstop in St. Louis in 2011 before returning to New England as the team's offensive coordinator; a position which he has held ever since.
Following the 2017 season, though, McDaniels initially accepted the Indianapolis Colts’ head coaching job. However, he backed out at the last minute.
Fast forward to four years later and to the Patriots’ matchup against these very Colts on Saturday night. The game brings back memories of his connections with Indianapolis, and questions regarding his potential future as a head coach again. The Patriots’ long-term offensive play-caller is enjoying plenty of success this season, after all.
When McDaniels met with the media on Monday afternoon, he was asked if he had any regret from backing out of the Colts job in January 2018.
Despite his apparent goal of being an NFL head coach again at one point, McDaniels showed nothing but appreciation for his current role as New England’s offensive coordinator and as rookie quarterback Mac Jones go-to guy. The 45-year-old appears willing to continue to groom the future of the Patriots franchise.
“I think every year I have tried to learn and grow as a coach and as a person” McDaniels said. “You make decisions in your life and in your career that you feel are the best decisions for you and your family. That is certainly what happened then. You move forward and do everything you can in your power to make those decisions the right ones. I certainly have no regrets with what has transpired since then.”
McDaniels added that he would be very fortunate to be in his current position and that New England would be “a great place to be” — in part because of head coach Bill Belichick’s mentorship.
However, with the Jacksonville Jaguars looking for a new head coach in 2022, and others such as the Chicago Bears, Las Vegas Raiders and Houston Texans possibly joining them, McDaniels’ name will again come up as one of the league's top options to fill a head coach vacancy elsewhere. The job he has been able to do inserting a rookie quarterback and multiple other new faces into New England’s notoriously complex offense sure will make hm an attractive candidate during the upcoming offseason.
McDaniels is certainly deserving of another opportunity to be a head coach again. Despite his wish to be in such a role again, however, he may not look externally for his next chance.
With Bill Belichick approaching 70 years old, there is no timetable on how long he is going to continue coaching. He is certainly on the back nine of his career, though. Given McDaniels’ history in New England and his relationship with Mac Jones only growing stronger day by day, his best option might just be to stay put and wait for his chance in New England.
Belichick is not known for looking too far ahead, but the long-term future of the organization could very much be on his mind already. He probably is aware that the Patriots would be in good hands with McDaniels and Jones leading them into the future.