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?
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.
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.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.