Will Josh McDaniels find his way back to Foxboro for his third stint with the New England Patriots?
McDaniels was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders on Tuesday night. Naturally, his firing came with plenty of speculation about another reunion with Bill Belichick.
During the 2011 season, McDaniels returned to New England as an offensive assistant after two years as the Denver Broncos' head coach and one as the St. Louis Rams' OC. He regained his role as Patriots offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2012 and replaced Bill O'Brien, who took a head coaching job at Penn State.
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Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who played under McDaniels from 2012-18, sees history repeating itself next season.
"I feel like Billy O'Brien might be out of there after this year," Gronkowski told Kay Adams on FanDuel TV's Up & Adams. "So if that's the case, I think Josh McDaniels comes back as offensive coordinator in New England, that's for sure."
The Patriots offense has struggled through the first eight weeks of the 2023 season, though it seems to have been more of a personnel problem than an O'Brien issue. Gronk doesn't believe the team will part ways with O'Brien. Rather, he predicts O'Brien will again leave for a head coaching gig elsewhere.
"I feel like he's gonna take an opportunity -- he's kind of a head coach guy, you know? I feel like he's gonna take an opportunity somewhere else," Gronk said. "I have zero sources, this is just me coming up with it because I was still very surprised he went to New England. So I could see him doing a one or two-year deal and being right out of there and McDaniels coming in once again."
McDaniels has six Super Bowl rings from his time on Belichick's staff. Of course, each of those championships came with the legendary Tom Brady under center. The Patriots currently find themselves in a precarious position with Mac Jones at quarterback and a glaring lack of weapons around him. It's fair to question whether New England is still a desirable destination for McDaniels.
That said, Jones played his best during his rookie campaign when McDaniels was his OC/QB coach. Perhaps his presence could reinvigorate the young signal caller's career and help get the woeful Patriots offense back on track.
For now, O'Brien and the Pats will look to earn their third win of the season when they host the Washington Commanders this Sunday. Kickoff for the Week 9 matchup is set for 1 p.m. ET at Gillette Stadium.