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Why Jerod Mayo Bringing Back Josh McDaniels Would Be a Colossal Mistake

While it's a new day in Foxborough, Massachusetts, with Jerod Mayo officially running the New England Patriots, that old vibe may not be completely gone. If Bill O'Brien is a one-and-done offensive coordinator and will be on his way out, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that Josh McDaniels would be "at the top of the list" of candidates to replace him. The former Raiders Head Coach, who outside of 2008, has never coached a Tom Brady-less offense to a top-10 finish in both points and yards in the same season, has reportedly been in New England in recent days, including Bill Belichick's farewell presser just days ago.

But after another laughable failure of a Head Coaching stint without Bill Belichick in his corner, is McDaniels the guy the Patriots want to run an offense likely set to turn to a rookie field general? Even taking Mac Jones' rookie season into the equation, I'm about to tell you why Mayo bringing the prodigal son back into the fold would be a colossal mistake.

Mediocre Game Calling

I subscribe to the theory that you can be great at putting a game plan together during the week, but not be anywhere near as good when it comes to actually calling a game. McDaniels might be the best example of that in the NFL. While he certainly has had some great moments with the call sheet, the 2018 AFC Championship game and the game-winning drive of Super Bowl 53 jump out right away, they were few and far between, and especially after Brady left for Tampa Bay, I thought he got exposed. Between 2020 and 2021, there were countless games I can go back to and say McDaniels play calling either cost the Patriots wins or came nowhere close to putting them into a position to win. Here, we go back and talk about a couple of huge ones that happened in 2021, starting with the Buccaneers' loss. (please bear without any All-22, anything pre-2022 isn't available for me)

Some Patriots fans may remember this well-timed trick play call, but I doubt many remember the three plays after this that led to a field goal in what was a two-point loss. On those ensuing three plays, the Bucs defensive game plan was pretty simple: Drop seven or eight into coverage and let everything take care of itself. While the three straight pass plays are more forgivable when you remember they legitimately had zero running game that night, they needed seven on this drive and McDaniels wasn't anywhere near aggressive enough. To no one's surprise, it was a third down screen to Brandon Bolden, which ended things, and not getting those extra four points put the Patriots in a 1-3 hole to start the year. Now, onto the Dallas loss, the much more egregious of the two.

From a situational standpoint, the fact the Patriots were even passing the ball in this scenario was a complete failure on the part of McDaniels. On the heels of a missed Cowboys field goal try, the Patriots ran on the 1st&10 before this, and Mike McCarthy was content on burning his timeouts. What you also don't see is the play before this, where not only do they motion Damien Harris out wide, but they get the play call in way too late and only split him out with five seconds left on the clock. In a game where Harris and 'Mondre were averaging nearly 5.5 a carry, this was a catastrophic failure by McDaniels. If he wasn't trying to get cute, the worst-case scenario is that you're punting it back to Dallas with no timeouts and down a point in a game you lost anyway.

A few more games from that season pop out in my mind where McDaniels didn't put the team in the best spot to win (Week 1 vs. Miami, Week 3 vs. New Orleans, and Week 15 vs. Indianapolis), but flip any two of those games and the Patriots would have been the AFC one seed in 2021. Yes, I'm 100 serious. So, with this all in mind, plus the fact he blatantly misused Jonnu Smith that entire season (yes, I'm still willing to die on that hill), it's fair to say I wasn't upset when he left at the end of the season.


Perhaps the biggest reason bringing McDaniels back would be a mistake is that we've seen what he's capable of doing without Bill Belichick there as a means of checks and balances, and it's not good. Nevermind the 20-33 record as a Head Coach, or the dead last offense in the league and a 2-14 record in 2011 with the Rams, he tries to be Belichick when he's not there, and the results are as you'd expect. Even with Mayo over him, I have zero reason to believe he'd try to act the same way. Also, if you don't believe me, just as some of the guys who've played under him back in his Denver days, or even look at the mood change in Vegas after he got canned.

"Josh McDaniels is definitely not suited to be a head coach. Absolutely not. Because he doesn't know how to lead people. You can have all the X's and O's in the world, but when you go into a losing locker room, the first thing you have to be able to do is get to the players' minds and their hearts. And he's not capable of doing that. He's not capable of doing that with his players. He's not capable of doing that with his coaches. And when things hit the fan, it gets worse with guys like that." - Former Broncos' WR Brandon Marshall on the November 11th (2022) edition of Up&Adams
The sport is littered with players and ex-players done wrong by McDaniels, ones who'd loved the game of football but learned to hate it under him. Polumbus told me that every day at work began with a “bad football” reel from the day before: McDaniels would dog cuss the player and their coach for any bad play from the previous day's practice, setting the tone for a super fun day. Many of his (de)motivational tactics were Bill Belichick knock-offs...making them stand up to recite them, and cussing out those who couldn’t. Can Josh design a good play? Sure. Can he make his players care about running that play? He cannot. There is a reason the Raiders have blown more double-digit leads than anyone else in the NFL over the last two years. When the game drags on, the team whose players care more about each other and, yes, their coach, will dig the deepest and find a way to win. I respected Mike Shanahan too much to leave a single drop of unspent juice in my tank. I would die to execute his vision. Josh elicited no such feelings. - Former Broncos' WR Nate Jackson

Now, knowing what Josh McDaniels is without Bill Belichick superseding and supervising him, is this someone you want back in New England, with a first-year Head Coach running the ship and allowing him to potentially undermind him from inside the walls of Gillette Stadium? Personally, there isn't a single capacity in which I want him back. Not in the Ernie Adams role, not as a position coach, not even as an area scout. At the end of the day, he's a relatively insignificant relic from a Patriots era that's never coming back and someone who greatly benefitted from working with coaches like Belichick and Dante Scarnechia, and players like Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, James White, Julien Edelman. The sooner those in Foxborough understand that the better off they'll be.

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