Patriots

Albert Breer: Patriots’ Josh McDaniels could draw interest for Bears’ coaching job

Might Josh McDaniels finally leave the Patriots for the chance to coach another young quarterback?

Josh McDaniels Patriots
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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As the Patriots show once again they’re one of the best teams in the AFC, other NFL teams could, as is customary, turn their eye toward Bill Belichick’s understudies to fill their own head coaching vacancies.

One of the biggest names being thrown around during this cycle: New England offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels.

In particular, the longtime Patriots offensive coach recently saw his name linked to the Chicago Bears, assuming the team fires current coach Matt Nagy after the season, in Sports Illustrated senior NFL writer Albert Breer’s latest mailbag.

Though Breer suggests the Bears should first try to lure New Orleans head man Sean Payton or Ohio State’s Ryan Day — rookie quarterback Justin Fields’s college coach — to Chicago first, he says McDaniels should be next on their list.

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“I think what you’ve seen in New England the last four months has been an absolute clinic in how to bring along a young quarterback,” Breer wrote, pitching McDaniels’s ability to develop Fields. “The Patriots have insulated Mac Jones with a power running game and a rugged defense, and as a result they’re rarely asking him to convert in long-yardage or play from behind. And he’s growing confidently as a result.

“Also, if you really look at it, this isn’t McDaniels’s first time maximizing a young quarterback,” he continued. “He developed Matt Cassel, who didn’t start a game in college, into a starter who won a division title for another team. He developed Jimmy Garoppolo from FCS star into a quarterback who took another team to a Super Bowl. He developed Jacoby Brissett from raw third-round pick into a quarterback who’ll likely have a 10-year career. Add that to Jones’s rookie year, and that’s not a good track record with QBs. It’s a great one.”

Under McDaniels, Jones has outshone his fellow rookie quarterbacks, including Fields, by a wide margin. He’s even making a case to be one of the best passers in the league during the Patriots’ seven-game win streak.

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But it’s worth noting the New England offensive coordinator was heavily involved in scouting Fields, whom the Bears selected with the 11th overall pick. The Patriots reportedly thought “highly” of Fields before the draft, which suggests McDaniels might be allured by the idea of working with him.

Still, plenty of speculation says that the 45-year-old coach will ultimately hold out for the Patriots’ job, waiting in the wings until Belichick finally retires. Lest anyone forget, McDaniels had the Indianapolis Colts job all but sewn up in 2018 but backed out at the last moment to stay in Foxborough.

That hasn’t stopped other teams from bringing him in for head coaching interviews since then, which suggests his name isn’t fully blacklisted yet. Plus, with Jones thriving as a rookie and the Patriots back atop the AFC standings, Belichick’s timetable for remaining in New England might have just gotten extended.

With that in mind, perhaps it’s not impossible to see McDaniels leaving town, especially to work with a young quarterback who has shown flashes of brilliance in a poor offense. Breer notes that scenario might also include the Jacksonville Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence if current coach Urban Meyer doesn’t make it to 2022.

For now, though, expect McDaniels to keep finding ways to get the most out of Jones and the Patriots’ offense as the team rolls inexorably toward the playoffs.

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