When Bill Belichick compares you to Nick Saban, you're doing something right.
Josh McDaniels has worked the New England Patriots for 18 of the last 21 years and served as Belichick's offensive coordinator for 14 of those seasons. He's done some of his finest work of late, completely redesigning the offense for both Cam Newton and Mac Jones following Tom Brady's departure in 2019 and helping Jones emerge as the most productive quarterback of the 2021 rookie class to date.
So, what makes McDaniels good at his job?
Belichick offered some effusive praise of McDaniels on Friday, describing how the offensive coordinator is always "a step ahead" in noticing potential on-field adjustments -- much like Belichick's former coaching partner and close friend, Nick Saban.
"It’s kind of like Saban when we were in Cleveland," Belichick said, as seen in the video above. "Nick knew what every player on the field was doing. He knew what the guard keys were. He knew what the running back was keying. He knew what the nose guard was doing. He knew what everybody on the field was doing.
"Josh is kind of the same way. He knows what all 11 guys are doing on offense, what their keys are, what their adjustments are and all that. And he knows defensively how the guy is taught to play certain blocks or routes or reads and how to attack them."
Saban was Belichick's defensive coordinator on the Cleveland Browns in the early 1990s before becoming one of the greatest head coaches in college football history at Alabama. McDaniels is more than two decades younger than both Belichick and Saban, but Belichick insisted he's "learned a lot" from his assistant.
"I don’t think he really has any weaknesses as a coach," Belichick said. "He understands what every player on the field is doing on offense and defense. He has a great vision for how to utilize the skills of the players on his side of the ball and how to try to attack the weaknesses, whether it be personnel weaknesses or schematic weaknesses or how to try to force the opponent into a situation that he’s able to take advantage of.
"... Josh is creative. He’s a very forward thinker. He’s got great poise during the game. He never gets rattled, never loses track of the situation. He’s always a play or two ahead."
Others have recognized McDaniels' talents, too: The 45-year-old has drawn considerable interest for head coach openings over the last several years and actually was announced as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in February 2018 before turning the job down on the same day.
There's a good chance McDaniels pursues another head coach opening next offseason, but it's clear Belichick appreciates what he has in the veteran offensive coordinator.