From big wins to big losses, everything is possible during a weekend in Vegas. Josh McDaniels, however, has nothing to lose after accepting the Las Vegas Raiders’ invitation to interview for their vacant head coaching position.
There are two outcomes: He either gets offered the job or not. At a minimum he will remain as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator heading into what would be his 11th straight season at the job.
However, the stars finally appear to be aligning for him to depart New England. Obviously, he has had that opportunity before — he left to briefly become Denver Broncos head coach in 2009 and was offered the Indianapolis Colts’ job in 2018 before backing out — but this time might be different.
Essentially, there are four reasons why this time might be different and why the Raiders’ invitation could be the first step towards the Patriots losing their long-time OC.
1.) The Raiders would not have requested an interview if they didn’t think McDaniels was interested. Make no mistake about it, McDaniels has earned the right to be picky. Despite the Broncos and Colts dilemmas he is held in high regard around the NFL, and remains one of the best offensive coordinators in the league. Las Vegas knows all that and yet still requested an interview. Why? Because the organization has done its due diligence and feels positive that McDaniels would take the job if offered.
2.) Las Vegas is coming off a playoff season. The majority of head coaching gigs open up because the previous ones got fired. The two jobs offered to McDaniels in the past are an example of that: the Broncos went 8-8 in 2008; the Colts went 4-12 in 2017. The Raiders are different given that they are coming off a tumultuous season that still saw them qualify for the playoffs with a 10-7 record. They did go one-and-done, but they have some solid pieces in place — starting with an established starting quarterback.
3.) Dave Ziegler. When McDaniels decided to stay in New England instead of taking the Colts job in 2018, he left a setting in which he would have had to work alongside an unfamiliar general manager. That might not be an issue in Las Vegas, given that the team would likely bring a familiar face aboard if McDaniels was the target: Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, who is a long-time companion of McDaniels and who has already interviewed for the Raiders’ vacant GM position. A package deal surely seems possible.
4.) These opportunities do not come along often. This one goes along the lines of the second point mentioned above. There are only 32 head coaching jobs available in the NFL, and being considered for one is a privilege — something McDaniels surely knows despite pulling out of an unfavorable situation in Indianapolis just four years ago. This time around, the situation appears to be much better for him if he wants to take the risk and relocate his family. That is a rare opportunity, and one that might just convince him to leave New England.
At the end of the day, McDaniels leaving is far from set in stone. He first has to take the interview, then has to get offered the job in the first place before deciding to take it.
Multiple factors are playing a role in his decision making — from salary to environment to family considerations — but all things considered the Raiders might just present the best opportunity he could get at this point in time. Don’t be surprised if he ends up trying to take advantage and leaving New England as a result.