The league’s firing-and-hiring cycle for coaches is underway. The Giants this week made Ben McAdoo the first head coach fired this season. There undoubtedly are plenty more dismissals to come, with a lengthy list of coaches in jeopardy of being ousted by season’s end or very soon thereafter.
As the Giants and those teams likely to join them in the market for a new head coach begin compiling their lists of candidates, no one is expected to be in greater demand than McDaniels. That could change if a high-profile college coach such as Alabama’s Nick Saban or Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh decides to consider NFL offers. But barring that, McDaniels might have his choice of vacancies.
If he wants to take one of them, that is.
This will not be the first time that teams will be chasing McDaniels. He has been regarded as a top head coaching candidate in each of the past few hiring cycles. He has taken interviews. But he has opted to stay put in New England.
Time is on McDaniels’s side, at age 41. He could remain with the Patriots and be an in-house candidate to succeed Bill Belichick whenever Belichick decides that he’s had enough. Or he could leave for a head coaching job elsewhere. But it would have to be the right head coaching job.
McDaniels is zero for one as an NFL head coach, having managed only 11 victories in a 28-game tenure with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and 2010. He was unable to make things work with quarterback Jay Cutler, and he was fined $50,000 by the league for failing to immediately report a violation when a Broncos employee improperly videotaped part of a walk-through by the San Francisco 49ers in London a day before the two teams played there.
But McDaniels’s coaching reputation has long since been restored in his second collaboration with Belichick in New England. The Patriots secured another Super Bowl triumph last season, and they’re back in position to perhaps win another this season. McDaniels has a strong bond with quarterback Tom Brady, notwithstanding their sideline confrontation last Sunday in which Brady screamed at McDaniels during the Patriots’ victory at Buffalo.
“It’s a very competitive game and emotional game and things like that can happen,” McDaniels said in a conference call with reporters this week. “Being in the game a long time, and understanding that Tommy’s a very emotional person and emotional player — it’s part of what makes him great. You understand that those things happen and it’s never personal. You move on quickly from it. And we did, and we have.
“I love Tom and all those things he stands for and all the things he does for our team. That’s just a situation where you understand it and move on quickly from it and you focus on your job.”
McDaniels will be very much in the spotlight in the coming weeks, as his name is linked to coaching vacancies. He has an interesting choice to make. For now, he’s not tipping his hand, speaking only about the Patriots’ preparations for Monday night’s game at Miami.
“I’m just interested in the Dolphins right now,” McDaniels said. “That’s where my focus is at and that’s where it’s going to stay.”
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