With the exception of a three-year sabbatical in Denver and St. Louis, Josh McDaniels spent his entire career up until January 31, 2022 with the New England Patriots. That means that he soaked up the so-called “Patriot Way” for 18 years before leaving the club to take over as Las Vegas Raiders head coach earlier this offseason.
Despite the majority of his coaching experience coming from assisting a future Hall of Famer, however, McDaniels vows that he will not try to copy New England head coach Bill Belichick with the Raiders.
“I’m not Bill, and I can’t be, so I’m not going to try,” he told reporters earlier this week. “I’m just going to try to be myself and hopefully I can be a good leader for our team.”
Several former Patriots assistant coaches have tried to install their own version of the Belichick-led system elsewhere throughout the years. For one reason or another, however, all of them have failed to achieve even a fraction of the Patriots’ success
McDaniels himself is one of the most prominent examples.
Leaving the Patriots after the 2008 campaign to take over as Denver Broncos head coach, he alienated parts of the organization with his Belichick-like approach to coaching and handling personnel matters. McDaniels’ team did manage to go 8-8 in his first season at the helm, but managed to win just two of its final 10 games of the season. After a 3-9 start in 2009, the Broncos pulled the plug on his tenure as head coach.
McDaniels joined the then-St. Louis Rams, but returned to New England for the 2011 playoffs. He resumed his old position as offensive coordinator in 2012, and helped the team win Super Bowls in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
The “Patriot Way” obviously allowed him to build a successful career, but McDaniels knows that leaving it behind requires cutting some ties.
“It’s hard for anybody to leave there try to replicate everything that happens there,” he said. “That’s probably true across the board in all of sports, and I made the mistake of trying to do too much of that the first time. I think you just got to be able to be yourself and I think we have a good thing going in terms of the direction that we’ve started things in.”