Patriots

Patriots Point/Counterpoint: Where's Josh McDaniels best landing spot if he leaves Pats?

Patriots Point/Counterpoint: Where's Josh McDaniels best landing spot if he leaves Pats?

Every week during the NFL season, Tom E. Curran & Phil Perry will  debate a topic on the minds of Patriots fans.

If Josh McDaniels leaves the Patriots this offseason, where's the best landing spot?

Two years ago, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was far and away the hottest head coaching prospect on the market. But when he left the Indianapolis Colts at the altar, a cooling ensued.

Last offseason, the only interview he had was with the Green Bay Packers. That job went to Matt LaFleur. But the fact remains the 43-year-old McDaniels is still regarded as one of the NFL’s best offensive minds. His résumé backs that up.

The Patriots, despite being undermanned offensively the past two years, won a Super Bowl last season when they morphed to a power-running team and are 10-3 this season. As the Patriots offense this season has declined, McDaniels has been forced to innovate. He’s come up with gadget plays in an effort to put points on the board while the running game spins its tires and protection for Tom Brady has vanished.

With Brady possibly leaving after this season and a full-on offensive reboot likely awaiting next season, now may be the right time for McDaniels to follow through on taking one of the opportunities available. But where? The only definite openings right now are in Carolina and Washington. Dallas and the Giants may also open up. The Jaguars, Falcons, Lions and Chargers could have vacancies as well.

Every one of those spots is fraught with some kind of obstacle. In Dallas, Jerry Jones is an extreme overlord who seems to want a puppet rather than a leader. Washington is an annual disaster and is unappealing unless longtime GM Bruce Allen is let go. The Giants have a headstrong GM in Dave Gettleman in place. Carolina has a new and aggressive owner in David Tepper.

The Jaguars? Well, they may be the most attractive on the surface but they are in steep decline from 2017 when they made the AFC Championship Game and have quarterback questions. Detroit probably won’t want to go back to the Patriots' tree for coaching fruit after Matt Patricia. And the Chargers may not be entirely ready to move on from Anthony Lynn.

The best spot for success in my eyes? The Giants. They have stable ownership, obviously. They have a decent young quarterback in Daniel Jones who outplayed the doom-laden projections dropped on him when he was drafted. What about Gettleman? Well, there’s a good chance he won’t survive the offseason either so McDaniels and a personnel man he’s comfortable with could go there as a package deal and start fresh together.

Honestly, the jobs opening up aren’t all that attractive. So, McDaniels will have a choice to make as to whether he jumps to a less-than-ideal spot where he can have some autonomy or stays in New England for what could be a bumpy post-Brady ride.

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If Josh McDaniels had his druthers, I would think he'd want to go somewhere where there is a known commodity in the owner's seat... somewhere where McDaniels would be allowed time to implement his vision... somewhere where there is talent in place to help him get his vision off the ground.

That somewhere, when it comes to the potential openings this coming offseason, is Atlanta. With Falcons owner Arthur Blank, McDaniels would have to feel comfortable that he'd have time to build the football operation to his liking. Blank has had just four coaches in 17 seasons, including Bobby Petrino who quit after one year.

Plus, in Atlanta, McDaniels would have a quarterback. Argue with Matt Ryan's effectiveness all you want, but he's a former MVP and a proven passer who should still have several years of good football ahead of him. Both Ryan and Julio Jones are under contract through 2023. Not a bad place to start for an offensive-minded head coach. A path to some success early on in his tenure, something not at all guaranteed with the roster in New York, should also buy McDaniels some patience with the Falcons fanbase.

The biggest issue there? The salary cap. The Falcons are one of a handful of teams who look like they're already butting right up against the projected 2020 cap, according to Over The Cap. McDaniels and whoever would be in charge of personnel — whether it's current Falcons general manager and former Patriots director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff or someone else — would have some difficult decisions to make.

But clearing up the salary cap is easier than finding a viable quarterback. And clearing up the salary cap is not the impossible obstacle to overcome that issues with ownership would be.

In Dallas, McDaniels would have a young and talented roster, but would have to deal with Jerry Jones making personnel calls. In New York, patience is already running thin and it'll take years to rebuild the botched rebuild happening there. In Cleveland, ownership has been so trigger-happy lately that it could be enough to scare off even an Ohio guy. Carolina is intriguing, but there's a big-time decision looming with the quarterback, and it's unclear just how patient new owner David Tepper would be with his first head-coaching hire.

Atlanta feels like the best fit. 

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How Jimmy Garoppolo won his 49ers teammates over soon after Patriots trade: 'It was sick'

How Jimmy Garoppolo won his 49ers teammates over soon after Patriots trade: 'It was sick'

MIAMI -- George Kittle was dressed as a pirate. It was the day before Halloween of his rookie season. He was going to celebrate the holiday as any 24-year-old would. Then, as any 24-year-old would, he peeked down at his phone to check on a notification.

Jimmy Garoppolo had been traded by the Patriots to Kittle's 49ers. He had a new quarterback.

"I said, 'Wow, that's really interesting.' It was cool," Kittle remembered. "Jimmy G. Two Super Bowls. Hell of a leader. It's fun to have someone like that."

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Kittle and other Niners this week remembered the deal that sent Garoppolo to San Francisco and in the process changed the course of the franchise. They couldn't have known exactly what they had then. Garoppolo had only two NFL starts to his name. But now, sitting in front of microphones in Miami in the days leading up to Super Bowl LIV, they couldn't believe their good fortune that Garoppolo landed in their laps. 

The hints that they had something in Garoppolo came early. 

"Honestly, it sounds cliche but it's real, it was at the first practice," said fullback Kyle Juszczyk. "He ran the scout team the first day. And that first period he absolutely diced our defense. You could see it in his footwork, his mechanics, the confidence that he emitted. You could see that this guy was the real deal."

For Kittle, the sign came loud and clear that his offense had a new leader. It came before Garoppolo even made his first throw from under center. 

"It was funny, his first play under center, he has a really good cadence," Kittle said, referring to the quarterback's calls at the line of scrimmage. "He has a good voice for it. Right after he said, 'Hut! Hut! Hike!' for the first time, everyone was like, 'Whoa! Nice!' It was sick."  

"Very authoritative," offensive tackle Joe Staley said of Garoppolo's line-of-scrimmage vocals. The 13-year veteran smiled and added, "He's commanding. Lets you know he's there."

It came together quickly for Garoppolo in his second professional stop. He started five games after being traded, winning all five, and completing 67.4 percent of his passes at a clip of 8.8 yards per attempt. 

He tore his ACL after three games the following season, but rediscovered his 2017 form this season. The Niners went 13-3 with Garoppolo taking the snaps. He completed 69.1 percent of his throws (fourth in the NFL), threw 27 touchdown passes (sixth), and put up an 8.4 yards per attempt figure (third). 

"I didn't really know much, actually," Staley said of Garoppolo's days in New England. "I remember the one game he had in Arizona where he started and did really, really well. But didn't know much. Didn't have much of a reaction [to the trade] either way. Knew everyone was really high on him. 

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"Then he came in here and he really blew me away. In the huddle. All the little nuances of being a quarterback. The command that he had. His quick release. You could definitely tell that he was trained in that Patriots system as far as getting rid of the ball fast, which is awesome for an offensive lineman. He's continued to grow and develop since he's been here. It's been awesome to see him get to this point."

The Niners are back in the Super Bowl after a 4-12 record last season. Back in the Super Bowl with a chance to win one for the first time since January 1995. And thanks in part to Tom Brady continuing to play at an MVP level the season Garoppolo was dealt, thanks to the Patriots holding onto Garoppolo until midseason that year, all it cost the Niners to change everything was a second-round pick.

"I think," Juszczyk said, "we got him for a bargain."

Tom Brady reacts to Dante Scarnecchia's retirement with heartfelt message

Tom Brady reacts to Dante Scarnecchia's retirement with heartfelt message

On Tuesday, longtime New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia decided to call it a career.

Several Patriots players bid farewell to the soon-to-be 72-year-old via Instagram, including quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady left a comment on the Patriots' Instagram announcement, commending Scarnecchia's for his unmatched dependability:

Couldn't have been a greater man or coach! What a privilege to play and work with Dante for two decades. The definition of the Patriot Way - consistent and dependable EVERY DAY!!

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Five of the Patriots' six Super Bowl titles came with Scarnecchia coordinating the blocking schemes that protected Brady.

As for who will take on the difficult task of replacing Scar, assistants Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo appear to be the leading candidates.