Bill Belichick has had an extraordinarily successful run as coach of the New England Patriots, one that will culminate in the team’s ninth Super Bowl under the coach’s tenure this Sunday. That run, which began when Belichick was hired before the 2000 season, has included five Super Bowl wins.
But one blemish on Belichick’s record, if you can call it that, is that none of his assistants have gone on to especially successful careers as NFL head coaches. In the last two decades, several former Belichick assistants have gotten NFL head coaching jobs, and none of them had sustained success as head coaches.
These assistants have included Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, and Bill O’Brien, while former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis had a mostly unsuccessful tenure as head coach at Notre Dame. Other future NFL head coaches, like Nick Saban and Al Groh, were assistants to Belichick when he coached the Cleveland Browns, while two other recent Belichick proteges, Matt Patricia and Mike Vrabel, were first-year NFL coaches this year.
Overall, none of those coaches have ever won an NFL playoff game as a head coach. This has also happened with front office executives, as former Patriots general manager Scott Pioli washed out as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs.
However, possibly the most notable Belichick assistant of all is Josh McDaniels. He was a Patriots assistant for most of the 2000s, rising to offensive coordinator until he was hired as head coach of the Denver Broncos in 2009. McDaniels chased off quarterback Jay Cutler, drafted college phenom Tim Tebow, and then was fired halfway through his second season. After a brief stop with the Rams, McDaniels returned to the Patriots for the 2012 season and has remained on the Patriots’ staff ever since.
In February of 2018, McDaniels was announced as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, with a press release prepared and a press conference scheduled. However, that same day, McDaniels backed out and decided to stay with the Patriots, per a previous Inquisitr report.
Could McDaniels get another head coaching job? Probably not this year. All of the coaching vacancies for NFL teams have been filled, with the exception of the Dolphins and Bengals, who are expected to hire Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores and Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, respectively, once the Super Bowl is over. Any talk of McDaniels going to another team is likely a year away.
So where could McDaniels go?
The most likely scenario is that McDaniels will become Belichick’s successor as head coach of the Patriots, at whichever point Belichick decides to retire. While other coaches have failed to replicate the Patriots’ culture with other teams, McDaniels would be tasked with doing so with the Patriots themselves. It’s been rumored, per ESPN, that McDaniels has been given some assurance that he will succeed Belichick, which is why he’s never left, although that’s never been confirmed. Belichick has never given any indication of retirement intentions.
If not the Patriots? Most of the worst teams in the league last year fired their coaches, but the Oakland Raiders did not. If Jon Gruden’s second season back on the sideline is as bad as his first, they could fire him and look to fill the vacancy with someone like McDaniels, as the franchise moves to Las Vegas in 2020.
Other teams in the AFC East like to hire coaches who come from the Patriots tree, as the New York Jets hired Mangini and the Dolphins brought in first Saban and now Flores. The Buffalo Bills, if Sean McDermott doesn’t have a successful season in 2019, could look to go the ex-Patriots route and hire McDaniels.
Jason Garrett has been coach of the Dallas Cowboys for more than a decade, without any major playoff runs to show for it. If they finally make a change, McDaniels could make sense.
The Cleveland Browns have changed coaches more than any other NFL team in the last two decades, and they’ve been rumored to have interest in McDaniels during various coaching searches, including this past offseason, per 24/7 Sports. If new coach Freddie Kitchens doesn’t work out for the Browns, it’s not hard to imagine them making another run at McDaniels.