Josh McDaniels is no stranger to head coaching rumors, so it's no surprise to see his name immediately attached to the Houston Texans job opening.
But considering the New England Patriots offensive coordinator's connections within the Texans organization, these rumors are a bit tougher to shrug off.
Former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien was fired by the Texans on Monday and replaced by another ex-Pats defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel in the interim. The most important Patriots connection, though? That would be former New England character coach Jack Easterby.
Easterby now is at the top of Houston's organizational chart after joining the team in 2019. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated explained McDaniels and Easterby's relationship and McDaniels' potential candidacy for the Texans job (video above).
"When Josh McDaniels was set to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, the idea was that he was going to bring a lot of Patriots people with him, and one of those people was going to be Jack Easterby," Breer said. "Jack goes to Houston, Jack wanted to make [Patriots director of player personnel] Nick Caserio his first hire as the team's new general manager in 2019. The Patriots blocked that from happening.
"But I don't know if I'm Nick or if I'm Josh and I've waited for this long that this is what I want to do. That I want to go to a place where potentially I'm not going to be reporting to the owner, I'm going to be reporting to Jack Easterby."
If McDaniels isn't the guy for the Houston job, Breer adds another intriguing option with a close relationship to Easterby.
"Another strong relationship that Jack Easterby has is with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney," Breer said. "It's more of an under-the-radar relationship, but that relationship is very, very strong and Dabo Swinney of course was Deshaun Watson's college coach."
While it's mostly speculation at this point, McDaniels and Swinney's connections to Easterby make them obvious candidates for the position. It'll be a matter of if Easterby wants another Bill Belichick disciple to follow in O'Brien's footsteps, and whether McDaniels and Swinney even want to leave their current situations.