The New England Patriots had an inkling this day would come, but it still feels like a gut punch for the squad.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has been as much of a part of the Patriots as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, is likely on his way out for the second time in his Patriots tenure and first since 2009. On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Cleveland Browns were requesting permission to interview McDaniels for the vacant head coaching position with the Carolina Panthers not far behind.
Following yesterday’s 33-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns wasted little time firing their head coach Freddie Kitchens. Despite all the offseason additions and excitement, the Browns finished with a 6-10 record, worse than last season under interim Gregg Williams. Kitchens was hired as head coach without much NFL coordinator or coaching experience and his lack of prior credentials led to a rough season.
As for the Panthers, they had fired Ron Rivera midway through the season and are already lining up candidates themselves, including Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
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High Praise from Fellow Patriots Assistant
It’s no secret McDaniels has played a big role in the organization on the field throughout his years with the team. He has cemented his status as one of the league’s top offensive coordinators helping Tom Brady and the Patriots consistently produce big numbers for the better part of two decades.
But he also has had an impact on other assistant coaches too. Longtime Offensive Line Coach Dante Scarnecchia gave a terrific endorsement for McDaniels as a head coach during his media availability on Friday. Here’s what he said (via WEEI)
“I would never have come back here if he was not here. I mean that. He’s just such a really good coach and a great guy for me personally to work with — for all of us to work with; I don’t want to speak for everybody. He’s very bright, a football guy through and through. He understands the game from the front to the back end and the whole width and breadth of everything. He’s a coach’s son, born into the game and just a pleasure to be around and to work with. A hard-working guy — just a really, really good coach. Someone’s going to be very lucky to have him as a head coach someday.“
Why Cleveland Makes Sense?
The coordinator is an Ohio native, hailing from the Akron suburb of Barberton. A return to his home state would be the one head coaching position McDaniels would be likely to take.
Two years ago, McDaniels accepted a job to coach the Indianapolis Colts but got cold feet and decided to come back to New England right before his introductory press conference. He also coached the Denver Broncos from 2009-10, getting fired midseason after a 2-10 start in his second year.
But with Cleveland, unlike Denver, he would be inheriting a talented corps in need of a leader who could put his players in the position to succeed. In that regard, McDaniels could lead the Browns to prominence much like his influence Bill Belichick.