Tuesday was the 15th anniversary of Bill Belichick becoming the Patriots’ head coach, a tenure long enough to have had assistant coaches develop, leave, then come back for second tours in Foxborough.
Josh McDaniels is the obvious example of a Belichick assistant returning to the nest. After a 28-game stint as the Broncos’ head coach in 2009 and 2010 and one season as the Rams’ offensive coordinator (2011), the 38-year-old McDaniels came back to New England to take over as offensive coordinator, a position he’s held for the last three seasons.
Tight ends coach Brian Daboll is another returnee. After leaving the Patriots’ staff in 2007, Daboll held five jobs in six seasons, coaching quarterbacks for the Jets and serving as offensive coordinator for the Browns, Dolphins and Chiefs. Daboll made his way back to Foxborough in 2013, serving as an offensive coaching assistant last season.
McDaniels and Daboll are linked in either ways, too. Both were graduate assistants under Nick Saban at Michigan State in 1999 before coming to Foxborough and building NFL careers that made them in demand elsewhere.
At Media Day, McDaniels praised Daboll’s contributions for New England, calling him “a great resource” for the team.
“He can coach whatever position we want him to coach,” McDaniels said, according to an interview transcript from the NFL. “He was helping [former Patriots assistant] Dante [Scarnecchia] with the offensive line last year and moved over to coach the tight ends this year and did a phenomenal job with those guys. He has been a coordinator. He has been a quarterback coach. He has coached receivers. This is a guy that brings experience and value to our offense.
“… Every day he has his hands in the game planning process, the preparation, the scouting report. He is a guy that I lean on significantly in my role. He has been one of my best friends ever since I met him at Michigan State. We are lucky to have him back here.”
It could also be argued Daboll and McDaniels are lucky to have had the experiences they had outside of New England, too. Both have broadened their résumés and their experiences, and they would figure to be better coaches for it.