Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is back in the head-coaching discussion among NFL teams. It’s an impressive turn-around, given that he was dead and buried after looking overmatched in 1+ seasons in Denver, finishing with an 11-17 record.
McDaniels created his own bad luck in Denver, angering veterans Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall before shipping each out of town. He also drafted Tim Tebow in the first round of the 2010 draft, which created a quarterback controversy even though Tebow’s mechanics and understanding of the pro game left much to be desired.
After starting his Denver tenure 6-0, McDaniels went 5-17 and was fired in 2010. He followed that with a year in exile in St. Louis, where he oversaw the worst scoring offense in the entire NFL. At that point, his chances at another head coaching opportunity looked dim and very far in the future, if they existed at all.
Five years later, the buzz has returned around McDaniels. He rehabilitated his reputation with innovative game plans and play designs, by helping convert a college quarterback into a top receiver, and by overseeing a top four offense every year since his return. And finally getting a Super Bowl win as OC didn’t hurt, either.
McDaniels’ work with Jimmy Garoppolo has not gone unnoticed in a league built around quarterback play. Garoppolo ranks fourth in the NFL with a 117.2 QB rating, has completed 70% of his passes, and has no interceptions on the season. Most importantly, when he’s been on the field, his team has outscored opponents 44-21.
In a league slanted so heavily toward offense, a coach who can handle a superstar quarterback (Tom Brady), teach a young quarterback (Garoppolo), and bring along a rookie QB (Jacoby Brissett) is worth his weight in gold. If McDaniels can coach up Brissett well enough to get to 3-1 or 4-0, he will likely field multiple offers in the off-season.
Not that he will leave. There have long been rumors that he’s the heir apparent to head coach Bill Belichick. But if he’s not certain of that scenario, or if better offer comes this year, don’t be surprised to see an offense-starved team offer a king’s ransom to get McDaniels.