For the first time since 2012, the New England Patriots will have to find a new offensive coordinator. The team’s long-time OC, Josh McDaniels has agreed to become the next head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders — leaving New England after total 18 seasons over two separate stints.
The move and its aftermath will be talked about quite a bit over the coming days and weeks, so let’s just quickly analyze what it means from a Patriots perspective.
New England loses some impressive stability
Josh McDaniels was by far the longest tenured offensive coordinator in the league. Not even counting his first stint on the job between 2006 and 2008, he held the position for 10 seasons following his return in 2012. For comparison, the second longest tenured OCs were both hired in 2018: the Kansas City Chiefs’ Eric Bieniemy and the Raiders’ Greg Olson (who likely will have no future in Las Vegas).
Even with assistant coaches coming and going, the top of the Patriots’ offensive hierarchy remained intact for the last decade. That level of stability was unheard of in today’s NFL.
The Patriots will need more than “just” a new offensive coordinator
While McDaniels’ most prominent role was that of offensive coordinator, he also worked closely with the quarterback position. With the exception of 2020, when Jedd Fisch was briefly brought aboard, he also coached the quarterback position.
No matter who will be the new offensive coordinator, he likely will also have to take a hands-on approach with the most important position group on the roster. If not, the Patriots need to find two people to fill McDaniels’ shoes. Look out for Bo Hardegree — the de facto assistant QB coach in 2021 — to possible be promoted.
That might not be all, though. It would also not be a surprise if McDaniels took some of New England’s assistant coaches with him to Las Vegas as well.
Mac Jones will have to get used to a new OC
The Patriots’ first-round draft pick in 2021, Mac Jones had an impressive rookie season under McDaniels’ tutelage. With the only offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach he has ever had at the pro level now gone, he will have to get used to working with somebody else.
The aforementioned Bo Hardegree might help make that transition an easier one, but the fact remains: Jones needs to build a relationship with a new coordinator for a second straight year. It remains to be seen how that will impact his development, but the situation certainly is not ideal for the second-year QB.
The fundamentals of the offense will likely stay in place
The team’s offense obviously evolved tremendously throughout McDaniels’ time in New England, but the fundamentals are still the ones installed by Charlie Weis back in the early 2000s. It would be a surprise if those changed dramatically even with a new offensive coordinator brought aboard.
That alone should help Mac Jones stay on course even with McDaniels gone. Until McDaniels’ successor is announced, however, all of that remains more speculation than fact.
New England will save a lot of money
Despite his previous endeavors into the head coaching world ending in disaster — just ask the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts fans of your choice — McDaniels remained one of the hottest names on the market. His contract reflected that: the 45-year-old reportedly made $4 million annually as the highest paid assistant coach in football.
Robert Kraft’s checkbook will probably be quite happy to see McDaniels depart. Obviously, however, the Patriots as a whole have some work to be done in order to replace him. Money alone cannot fill the void he will leave.