You can stop wondering now.
You don't have to hear about how Kliff Kingsbury should be the next Patriots offensive coordinator or about how Charlie Weis could make a triumphant return to be the next guy to step in and hold Tom Brady's attention.
That's because Josh McDaniels isn't going anywhere. Not for the foreseeable future, anyway.
McDaniels was a finalist for the Packers head coaching gig, which ended up going to Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. He'd been sought by the Bengals to take over for Marvin Lewis, but declined.
On a conference call Tuesday, McDaniels said that he had not heard from the Browns. I followed up to ask him if he planned on taking any more head coaching interviews this year.
"The book is closed," McDaniels said. "It's always a humbling experience to have an opportunity to interview with anybody for that position.
"I was thankful for the opportunity to meet with Green Bay. It always gives you greater insight into another organization of how they do things. It's been very educational for me every time I've gone through it, and I've appreciated every single one of them."
Then came the part that should make Patriots fans happy.
"I'm completely focused on the Chargers and our season and finishing it strong," McDaniels said. "And I'll be here moving forward."
One of the league's hottest head coaching candidates for years, I asked McDaniels if he felt as though what happened with the Colts last year impacted his market for other opportunities.
"I have no idea," he said. "You'd have to obviously ask them if that had anything to do with anything like that.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity I had, but obviously more importantly thankful for the opportunity that I have here. I've said before, I think I have one of the best jobs in the world. I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue competing this week against the Chargers."
Had McDaniels left, the Patriots would've found someone to be their play-caller in 2019 -- even if that play-caller wasn't given the title of offensive coordinator.
Maybe the Patriots would've done what they often do: promote from within. They could have given the title to receivers coach Chad O'Shea or assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski. Or maybe it would've been Kingsbury (a 2003 Pats draftee who spent the '03 season on injured reserve and was waived by New England after going through training camp in 2004) or Weis (an assistant here under Bill Parcells from 1993-96 and again under Bill Belichick from 2000-04) or someone else from the outside with a Patriots connection.
But being able to have McDaniels in the fold for another year is an obvious win for his current employers. And that's even if he's long gone by the time Bill Belichick retires and the Kraft family has to start looking for a successor.
McDaniels' working relationship with Brady, with whom McDaniels been meeting with and game-planning alongside for a dozen years, is obviously monumental to the operation. McDaniels calls the plays, oftentimes two at a time so Brady can check out of one and into another, but they have so much shared football experience that they can shift and adjust their plan of attack quickly when the need arises. If a particular approach has been stymied by a defensive look they didn't anticipate, they can dig into the far reaches of their temporal lobes and dust off a plan from years ago that might help them. Good luck duplicating that with another coordinator.
But it's not just what McDaniels has done with Brady that makes him so vital to the Patriots' system. There's what he did to help form Jimmy Garoppolo into the type of player that had the Patriots desperately trying to keep.
Yes, the transition from Brady to The Next Guy still seems to be a ways away. And yes, maybe McDaniels will be a head coach elsewhere in 2020 and uninvolved in the passing of that hefty torch. But if he is, even though he's the one who carries the dubious distinction of having drafted Tim Tebow in the first round in 2010, that matters. McDaniels' recent track record with young quarterbacks -- Patriots' third-round pick Jacoby Brissett is now considered by some to be among the best backups in football for what he did in Andrew Luck's absence last year -- is promising.
Then look at what McDaniels has done this year, with an offense that traded away its best deep threat in the offseason, traded for another midseason and quickly helped make the new guy the game's most explosive target on a per-catch basis. Look at how McDaniels dealt with injuries to the running back position, making his sub back a legitimate every-down threat, helping guide a rookie to the best season a rookie back has ever had under Belichick, and turning a kick-returner into a viable running-game option.
McDaniels went to work this year without Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis. He went four games without Julian Edelman and many more without a fully healthy Rob Gronkowski. Even so, the Patriots still ranked in the top 10 in scoring this season (seventh, 20.3).
There's sure to be turnover again next season. Trent Brown, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson are all free agents, and Gronkowski's future is uncertain. Brady will be another year older and the running game may continue to grow -- at a time when the passing game is taking off -- in order to help keep him clean.
Things don't seem to be getting any easier in Foxboro. But having McDaniels around to make the transition from this year to next will make it smoother than if he weren't.
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