Sunday 7: Will Josh McDaniels ever be a head coach again?

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1. Another NFL hiring cycle is nearing its end and it seems like Josh McDaniels will once again remain in New England. The Patriots offensive coordinator did not get the Eagles job as that went to Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, who hasn’t even called plays at the NFL level. Looking ahead to next year, Brian Daboll and Eric Biemeny (as long as neither get the Houston job) seem to be ahead of him, and then it’s hard to imagine McDaniels being able to raise his stock much in the 2021 season. No one knows who the Patriots will have at quarterback and regardless of who it is, it doesn’t feel like McDaniels will be able to do enough to make the rest of the league feel better about him than Daboll and Biemeny, who should boost their resumes even more by continuing to work with Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes respectively. It has to be frustrating for the 44-year-old to see who got hired in recent weeks — Sirianni, Brandon Staley and Dan Campbell — as he clearly has a better resume than any of them. Are teams turned off more than originally thought from what happened with the Colts? Possibly. Are teams worried his success was mostly because of having Tom Brady? Maybe. While McDaniels’ stock is not trending upwards, he eventually will get his chance and it seems like he’s becoming less and less picky with what he wants when it comes to being interested in a job. Would the Eagles have been the perfect fit? No, but it feels like he’s realizing there are only 32 jobs and there may not be a job that will ever check every single box. While McDaniels may not be viewed as highly as he was a few years ago, he’s too talented of a coach to not get a second chance at leading a team, which should come again sooner rather than later.

2. It was also learned this week that Matt Patricia will return to New England next season. No matter how you feel about him, this should be viewed as a good thing. Just look at the list of coaches the team has lost over the last several years: Brian Flores, Josh Boyer, Jerry Schuplinski, Dante Scarnecchia, Joe Judge, Bret Bielema, Chad O’Shea, Brendan Daly and Patricia. Getting someone back with as much experience that Patricia has with the organization will help. It doesn’t appear like he will be calling plays, or even lead a position group, but just his presence in the facility will help, especially with coaches being able to have another person in the building who gets it and can get ideas run by him. Do not be surprised if he gets a few of the duties that Nick Caserio had, including being on the headsets during games.

3. Julian Edelman was asked about retirement talk during an appearance on Pardon My Take Friday and he said, “we’re not there yet.” We took this as he hasn’t made a decision yet, rather than saying he will be back next season. With that being said, Edelman did say he’s working on a plan to “attack the offseason,” which would indicate he plans on playing another year. Edelman will turn 35 years old in May and is no guarantee to return to New England, as the wide receiver position could go in a number of directions. With that being said, any team is better with Edelman on it.

4. Obviously there was a lot of Brady vs. Bill Belichick talk this week with many saying Brady won the battle between the two. Well, while he won this year, that doesn’t mean things won’t look differently in a year or two. What if the Bucs miss the playoffs next season and Belichick leads the Patriots back to the AFC title game? What will be said then? What if Belichick wins a Super Bowl within the next three or four years? It simply is too early to declare a winner in that debate and quite frankly, there never will be a winner between the two, nor should there be.

5. A few Brady-related stats to keep in mind this week in the NFC title game. The quarterback has gone nine straight games, including the playoffs, without turning the ball over on the road. His last turnover away from home came in Week 1 at New Orleans. Secondly, Tampa Bay’s team total in the game Sunday has been set at 23.5 points. The Buccaneers have scored more than 23 points in nine straight games and in 15 of 18 games overall.

6. Keep this in mind for the Patriots selecting at No. 15 overall in the draft and potentially landing a quarterback: Over the last seven drafts, only one QB has been selected in the No. 15-20 range (Dwayne Haskins No. 15 overall in 2019). Meanwhile, 17 quarterbacks have gone in the top-14 during that same timeframe. Clearly, teams that value the position move up to get the player it wants and that could be something the Patriots may need to do if they are looking to select a quarterback in Round 1 this year.

7. Like we’ve mentioned before, the Senior Bowl, which is this week in Mobile, Alabama, will have more importance than ever. With no NFL Combine, this really is the only chance for all 32 teams to gather and see college prospects up close. This has also factored into some injured players going to Mobile for the week just to get to work with the coaches and potentially meet with teams. Belichick, McDaniels and other coaches attended last year and it’s likely they will be back again this week.