New England Patriots

McDaniels' firing continues ugly trend in Belichick coaching tree

Josh McDaniels joins a long line of ex-Belichick assistants who flamed out as head coaches.

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Stop us if you've heard this before: A former New England Patriots assistant was fired from his NFL head coach job due to poor performance.

Josh McDaniels became the latest member of the Bill Belichick coaching tree to lose his job late Tuesday night when the Las Vegas Raiders fired him and general manager Dave Zeigler -- also a Patriots alum -- after the team's 3-5 start.

McDaniels lasted just 25 games with the Raiders, going 9-16 (but 2-0 against the Patriots) before team owner Mark Davis pulled the plug less than two years into the six-year contract McDaniels signed with Las Vegas in January 2022.

The former Patriots offensive coordinator is now 20-33 (.377 winning percentage) as an NFL head coach, his first unsuccessful stint coming with the Denver Broncos from 2009 to 2010. Denver went 8-8 in McDaniels' first season but started his second season 3-9 before he was let go.

McDaniels' misery has plenty of company, however. The 47-year-old joins a long list of former Belichick assistants who have struggled after taking NFL head coach jobs.

Here's a full rundown of the 11 Belichick assistants who became NFL head coaches. (Note: This list doesn't include Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who was a player under Belichick, not an assistant coach.)

Al Groh (.563 winning percentage)

New York Jets, 2000: 9-7

Groh served as linebackers coach under Belichick in Cleveland in 1992 before coming to New England as defensive coordinator under Bill Parcells. He spent one season as the Jets head coach before resigning to coach at his alma mater, the University of Virginia.

Groh is one of just two ex-Belichick assistants to post a winning record as an NFL head coach. And yes, his son is the Patriots' current director of player personnel, Matt Groh.

Nick Saban (.469)

Miami Dolphins, 2005-06: 15-17

Arguably the greatest head coach in college football history, Saban's brief stint in the NFL included the only sub-.500 year on his résumé, a 6-10 campaign in 2006.

But two years with the Dolphins weren't the worst years of his life; that's how he termed the four years he spent as Bill Belichick's defensive coordinator with the Browns in the 1990s.

Romeo Crennel (.337)

Cleveland Browns, 2005-08: 24-40 

Kansas City Chiefs, 2011-12: 4-15 

Houston Texans, 2020: 4-3

A five-time Super Bowl champion as an assistant coach, Crennel struggled in a head coaching role with a losing record in both Cleveland and Kansas City. Crennel's lone relative "success" was in Houston, where he took over for current Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien after the Texans fired O'Brien during the 2020 season.

Eric Mangini (.413)

New York Jets, 2006-08: 23-25 

Cleveland Browns, 2009-10: 10-22 

Mangini actually succeeded Crennel twice: first as defensive coordinator with the Patriots in 2005 and then again as head coach of the Browns in 2009.

While Mangini coached with Belichick on the Browns, Jets, and Patriots, the two were on frosty terms after Mangini's role in setting off the Spygate scandal in 2007.

Jim Schwartz (.363)

Detroit Lions, 2009-13: 29-51

Schwartz got his first NFL job as a scout under Belichick with the Browns in 1993 and later brought his defensive acumen to Ravens and Titans before finally getting an opportunity as a head coach in Detroit in 2009. But in five seasons, his Lions only made the playoffs once and had double-digit losses in three seasons.

Bill O'Brien (.520)

Houston Texans, 2014-20: 52-48

The Patriots' current offensive coordinator is the only other Belichick disciple to post a winning record away from New England, but his time in Houston wasn't without controversy. The Texans won just two playoff games in his six-plus seasons there, and his decision to trade DeAndre Hopkins (O'Brien was also in charge of personnel moves) led to to his firing just four games into the 2020 season.

Matt Patricia (.314)

Detroit Lions, 2018-20: 13-29-1

Matt Patricia's first win as an NFL head coach came against the Patriots in Week 3 of the 2018 season, but there weren't many victories after that.

Patricia led the Lions to last-place finishes in each of his two full seasons before he was fired midseason in 2020. Belichick gave him a job in 2021 and let him run the Patriots' offense in 2022 -- which didn't exactly go as planned.

Brian Flores (.490)

Miami Dolphins, 2019-21: 24-25

Flores spent 15 seasons in New England, where his titles ranged from scouting assistant to special teams assistant to safeties coach to linebackers coach.

He helped turn the Dolphins into a 10-win team in 2020, but things went south in a hurry -- he was fired after the 2022 season and filed a lawsuit against Miami and several other NFL teams alleging racial discrimination in the league's hiring processes.

Joe Judge (.303)

New York Giants, 2020-21: 10-23

One of the more surprising head coaching hires in recent seasons, Joe Judge made the transition from special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach in New England to head coach of the Giants in 2020.

The transition was not smooth: Judge lasted just two seasons in New York before following Patricia back to New England.

Brian Daboll (.460)

New York Giants, 2022-present: 11-13-1

The Giants replaced one ex-Belichick assistant with another, and the initial results were promising: Daboll led New York to a 9-7-1 record in 2022. The former Patriots tight ends coach has his team at 2-6 through Week 8 of the 2023 season, however, and may not be long for the job.

Josh McDaniels (.377)

Denver Broncos, 2009-10: 11-17

Las Vegas Raiders, 2022-23: 9-16

McDaniels is the seventh member of the Belichick coaching tree to last three seasons or fewer in a head coaching role. We're sensing a pattern here.

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