With head coach firings filling the league this week one name that has popped up has been New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. McDaniels returned to New England for 2012 following a failed head coaching attempt with the Denver Broncos in which he gave away stars Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Peyton Hillis. The Patriots have consistently had the best offense in the NFL despite changing offensive coordinators every few years.
Charlie Weiss was the Patriots offensive coordinator from 2000 to 2004. In Weiss’ five years in that position the Patriots won the AFC East three times and won three Super Bowls in four years. When Weiss left to become head coach at Notre Dame following the 2004 season, the Patriots went without an announced offensive coordinator for the 2005 season but still won the AFC for the third straight year. From 2006 to 2008 McDaniels became the new offensive coordinator. In the three seasons at that position the Patriots won two AFC East titles and went to the Super Bowl in 2007. In 2008 the Patriots finished 11-5 losing the divisional tiebreaker to the Miami Dolphins.
When McDaniels left to become the head coach of the Broncos in 2009, the Patriots again went without an offensive coordinator for the next two seasons. In those seasons they won two more divisional titles. In 2011 the Patriots named quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien as the new offensive coordinator and the Patriots went on to win the AFC championship for the fifth time in 11 years. After last season O’Brien left to become the new head coach at Penn State and was replaced by the return of McDaniels who has the Patriots back in the postseason as the two seed and with another AFC East title.
Over the last 12 years the Patriots have won ten AFC East titles, five AFC titles, and three Super Bowls and have not had an offensive coordinator for more than four straight years. That’s impressive for a team that is led by their offense and has often won despite their defense. In fact, it could be argued that the Patriots could continue without an offensive coordinator and still be as successful as long as they still have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
McDaniels has made it clear he has no interest at this time of going after any head coaching jobs but with his name being mentioned as a candidate for open positions, it does bring the question of what would happen to the Patriots if he left. Using history as a guide, it seems that McDaniels could leave and the Patriots would be fine as long as Brady and Belichick remained. Those two have been the only constants of what has been the best offense in the NFL over the past 12 seasons.