With the Patriots securing a bye week their fans probably thought they could relax this week and watch the other AFC teams fight it out for the right to advance to the next stage. Unfortunately it very quickly became apparent that relaxing is not what they will be doing with the news that both of their coordinators will be interviewed by other teams this week. Josh McDaniels is perhaps the more interesting of the two names given his notoriety as the offensive coordinator and his failed head coaching attempt in Denver but Matt Patricia has also garnered the interest of some teams.
Patricia, who will interview with the Lions, Giants and Cardinals this week, is often the guy blamed when the Patriots defence doesn’t perform up to expectations and often goes under the radar when they over perform. In the first four weeks this year there was equal amounts of blame placed on Patricia as Belichick as the Patriots struggled to get pressure and gave up a ton of points. When that started to turn around the talk was mostly about how Belichick has done it again. It would seem that Patricia’s role hasn’t been missed by NFL teams though and his options are intriguing. For me the best fit is in Arizona where he would join up with ex-Patriot Chandler Jones and inherit a solid defence. If he could hire a solid offensive coordinator and find a competent QB then they could quickly be challenging again in a loaded NFC West. The Giants wouldn’t be a bad fit as their defence is fairly good but going to New York would mean inheriting the what to do with Eli question and I don’t see a way he can come out of that saga without upsetting a major part of the fanbase. Patricia is a guy I fully expect to leave this offseason and while I hope he succeeds the track record for Belichick coordinators is not a good one.
The question of whether McDaniels would leave is a much more interesting debate. He left the nest once to go to a situation that wasn’t amazing and was back in three years. The three teams who have expressed interest this time around are the Bears, Colts and Giants and all of them bring a completely different level of intrigue as to what McDaniels might do.
In Chicago it all depends on his thoughts about Trubisky. I cannot see the Bears moving on from the rookie after just one season so if McDaniels doesn’t feel confident he can develop Trubisky into a QB capable of winning the SuperBowl then I am not sure he makes that move. I would think he will seek some sort of guarantee that if he will have time to see if it works with Trubisky and if it doesn’t then he would want to make sure he has the chance to bring his own guy in.
As for New York it is the same issue facing Patricia, what do you do about Eli? Does McDaniels want to inherit an ageing QB who is definitely on the downturn of his career? I would guess not but equally does he want to start his new job having released a 2 times SuperBowl winning QB with the pressure that would put on him and whoever he brought in to replace Manning? That is a lot of questions that need answering but the chance to go to a team in New York with the history of the Giants might be too hard to pass up. Again I would think he will want some sort of assurance that if he has to keep Manning he will still get a chance with his own guy if it goes wrong.
The third and final option is the most intriguing. The Colts have a guy deemed to be a generational talent in Andrew Luck and have in many people’s views have under achieved. The big question is about Luck’s health, if he can come back next year healthy then McDaniels could walk into a relatively perfect scenario. He would have a good QB, albeit a highly-paid one, to build his team around and if he really wanted he could conceivably use Jacoby Brissett and trade Luck to free up more cap space to build a team. This is the closest scenario of those available to what he would consider perfect but ironically there could have been an even more perfect scenario for McDaniels.
That perfect scenario could have been Jimmy Garoppolo. Was Jimmy G still with the Patriots McDaniels could have left and potentially signed a guy he is familiar with to come in and run his offence in his new team. Equally had the Patriots traded Garoppolo to a situation with a more shaky coach situation (Cleveland for example) then there might have been a chance that they sacked their coach with the intention to bring in McDaniels. The worst possible scenario for McDaniels is Garoppolo in San Francisco with the other wiz-kid coordinator in Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan was always safe and there is next to no chance Garoppolo gets out of San Francisco this offseason.
What all this means is that Josh McDaniels might just stick it out a little bit longer. If he truly believes Brady has another 3-4 years left as a top class QB he might stay in the hope he can add another SuperBowl ring to his collection. If you think he is hot property now imagine him with another couple of rings on his resume. Another option is to play out 2018 and see if a better QB situation opens up but opportunities like Andrew Luck don’t often just fall into your lap. Equally if he stays and Brady falls off then McDaniels could find himself being shown to be a coach who was only good because of his QB, many people already think that. McDaniels has a lot to weigh up this week all while trying to plan for an opponents he doesn’t yet know and also looking across the coaching room wondering if he hesitates too long on the Giants job that his current colleague might swoop in a take it. It is going to be an interesting week behind the scenes for the Patriots and their coordinators.
This guest piece was written by Ben Rolfe. Ben is a New England Patriots fan and can be found on Twitter at @BenRolfe15.