NFL ANALYST

Cassel: Thoughts on McDaniels’ coaching future and the Mac Jones factor

NFL ANALYST

There are a few core traits that Josh McDaniels looks for in a quarterback: smarts, toughness, dedication and leadership, to name a few.

The quarterback position demands tremendous leadership. You’re the guy everybody’s looking to on every play, not only to communicate the call to the players, but also to get them back on track when things aren’t going well. You're actually an extension of the coaching staff, and leadership is a big part of that. 

But I don't think McDaniels knows exactly what he's getting when a QB comes in.

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When I first arrived in New England, he might have said to himself, "Who did these guys just send me? This guy didn’t start a game in college, and now I have to try to develop him?" But Josh didn’t look at it like that. He looked at it as a challenge, and from a teaching perspective, I always appreciated the way he attacked the offseason and helped me learn football.

It started with defense -- with him teaching me opponents' schemes and adjustments. Where is the right place to go against particular coverages? Where are the holes in particular zones? What do you have to be careful for versus certain man coverages? He'll help build you up as a player, and it starts with just laying the foundation -- learning the defense and learning the offense -- then from there expanding that knowledge and executing on the field.

 

He helps you in every step of that process, and that’s what he did with me. He started with a clean slate and built that thing up brick-by-brick.

He's a great teacher, and you can tell he loves his job. He loves football, and that passion comes out in every single quarterback meeting. So, when a QB comes into the room who is passionate about the game and is there to learn and work, that’s got to be exciting for Josh, because he will give you everything that he has to make you a better football player.

That's part of why the marriage between Josh and Mac Jones is working really well. Everything I’ve heard about Mac in terms of when he gets to the stadium, how he works and his attention to detail -- all of those things check boxes for the QB position in New England.

Josh has the ability to help mold this kid into a better football player, and the results are starting to come. It probably wasn't easy when they were 2-4 and grinding out games, but now they're first in the AFC East, and McDaniels' tutelage appears to be paying off.

(McDaniels) can be a little more picky in terms of where he wants to go. ... He has a young quarterback who’s the future of the franchise and is playing well in his system.

Matt Cassel on Josh McDaniels' coaching future

It seems like Josh McDaniels is in the running for a head coaching position every year, especially if the Patriots are having success. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Josh over the years, it’s that he’s going to make the decision that’s right for him and his family.

There might have been jobs in the past that he probably wanted. Maybe they fit his style, had the personnel and had upper-level management that agreed with his idea for how to run a team. But he’s not going to rush into anything. If there’s a good opportunity, he’ll take it for him and his family, but I don’t think that just because somebody offers him a head coaching job, he’s 100 percent going to take it.

He also has great job security right now with the Patriots and Bill Belichick. He doesn’t have to take the first job that pops up, and he can be a little more picky in terms of where he wants to go and the team he’s looking to build.

Why? Because he has a young quarterback who’s the future of the franchise and is playing well in his system. I don’t know how much he makes, but he has to be one of the highest-paid offensive coordinators in the league, and deservedly so.

You have to weigh those factors and consider where he sits right now. His family has been in the same place, he has a routine and honestly, he’s not the head coach, so he doesn’t have to answer all of those difficult questions at press conferences. When the team is 2-4, you have to face those hard questions; you have to "ring the bell" and step up on behalf of your team.

 

Belichick is brilliant at it, but that’s a whole different animal as a head coach. I know Josh McDaniels is ready for it, but it’s just whether or not he wants to do it and leave his current situation with Mac Jones.

Editor's Note: Matt Cassel played 14 years in the NFL as a quarterback, including four with the Patriots from 2005 to 2008. He serves as an analyst for NBC Sports Boston, appearing on Pre/Postgame Live, as a guest on Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast every Thursday, and as a columnist each week during the season.