The Patriots may indeed hire offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to replace coach Bill Belichick, whenever Belichick leaves. But that doesn’t mean that the Patriots have given McDaniels a firm commitment to promote him.
As the football-following world learned very recently, the Rooney Rule does not prevent a team from making a firm, written, advance commitment to promote a non-minority employee into the role of head coach or G.M. That’s precisely what the Ravens are doing with respect to their G.M. succession plan, and both the league and the Fritz Pollard Alliance have given the transition from Ozzie Newsome to Eric DeCosta their blessing.
But any team that makes such a promise ties its hands; some teams may not want to surrender their flexibility, especially when it’s not known how long the current coach will remain. Last March, Patriots owner Robert Kraft told PFT Live that he’d like to see Belichick coach into his 80s. If that happens, McDaniels could be deep into his 50s before he finally gets a chance to become the head coach.
Even if Belichick stays only five more years, circumstances can change dramatically between now and then — especially if the New England offense isn’t nearly as potent without quarterback Tom Brady.
So, at best, there’s a wink and a nod that Josh McDaniels will get serious consideration for the job, if/when Belichick leaves. And if anyone currently knows the value of a wink and a nod, it’s Josh McDaniels.