The Philadelphia Eagles need a new head coach after canning Doug Pederson. They're still in the interview process and one of the men brought in to chat was New England Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels. It was not so long ago that McDaniels would be linked to every possible open HC job each offseason, but things have been real quiet on that front this offseason.
Dan Graziano hopped on ESPN this morning to let us all know that it's growing more likely McDaniels will be Philly's guy.
This is interesting because 2020 was by far McDaniels' worst year as an offensive coordinator. He did not have Tom Brady for the first time in his career. Instead, he had a washed-up version of Cam Newton throwing to the worst receiving corps in the NFL. That is admittedly not the best hand to be dealt. But McDaniels has been seen as one of the league's best coordinators during his time in New England. Sometimes that view is justified. Last year, it was not.
The Patriots were terrible in nearly every offensive statistic imaginable. They were 26th in total offense and yards per game, 30th in passing yards per game and 26th in points per game. They failed to score a touchdown in three games this season. The only area they were any good in was running the ball (fourth in yards per game). Again, McDaniels didn't have much to work with. But some of the blame has to fall on the coach in charge of the unit when an offense performs this badly.
The appeal of McDaniels is obvious from an outside view. He helped engineer one of the league's best offenses on a consistent basis for much of the last decade, and changed the look of that offense based on personnel regularly. The team's transition from a Brady-based attack to an overwhelming run game during their 2018 Super Bowl run was McDaniels' pièce de résistance.
This is, however, still the guy that failed in his only previous head coaching experience in Denver and burned several bridges in the process. The same guy that told the Indianapolis Colts they had a deal then backed out while the contract was printing. Those memories still linger.
The best version of McDaniels as a head coach kind of feels like what Pederson was before 2020. A smart offensive play-caller who could make it work with a backup as effectively as the starter, because the system is that good. Maybe McDaniels can do what Pederson could not and fix Carson Wentz without angering his bosses in the process. But to believe he can do that after the worst professional season of his career? It would be quite a leap of faith.