When Josh McDaniels was in his first year with the Broncos in 2009, he coached against Bill Belichick and the Patriots in Week Five.
Denver ended up winning that game 20-17 in overtime, with Kyle Orton leading the charge at quarterback.
So Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Patriots won’t be the first time McDaniels is across the sideline from one of his biggest football mentors as a head coach. Plus, Las Vegas and New England met in the preseason this year.
But it has been a long time since McDaniels went against Belichick in a game that counts.
“Honestly, it’s a unique opportunity. And I would say that I look forward to all these opportunities, they don’t come out around often,” McDaniels said in his Wednesday press conference. “I know he’s going to get his football team ready to play on Sunday at [1:05]. I don’t think he’s going to care a whole lot about how much he mentored me or what he did and vice versa.
“And that’s not a bad thing. I don’t think he would expect anything less from me than to just compete and do everything we can to help our team win, and I know that’s what he’s going to do. So, I look forward to the competition. I know they do it the right way. Eager to have our team go through our week of preparation here and get ready for a hell of a football game on Sunday.”
McDaniels called Belichick a “great mentor for me” not just in football, but also in life.
“Look, it’s obvious I wouldn’t be here, or even in the National Football League, if it wasn’t for Bill,” McDaniels said. “Robert [Kraft], Jonathan [Kraft] gave me a great opportunity a long time ago. He’s been invaluable to me in a lot of ways. Hard to measure all of them.
“I got to see firsthand how to try to do it the right way. His philosophy on everything; offseason, training camp, in-season, postseason, evaluations, draft, free agency. He gave a lot of his time to me, and I was able to hopefully pick up as much as I could.”
McDaniels added going back to New England after his failed stint in Denver and as an offensive coordinator with the then-St. Louis Rams was a “real important period of time for me.”
“I’m watching him the second time around, and maybe the first time I didn’t even know to look for it, and now I’m looking for different things,” McDaniels said. “How he handles adversity, what he’s doing here in the offseason, how he’s handling the bye week? What’s he doing in April, May, June, etc. that maybe I wasn’t even clued in on that existed before I left.
“And so, it gave me a great opportunity to kind of look at it through a different lens and really try to take some time to process those things while I was watching somebody that’s obviously the best that’s ever done it do it again. … [H]e’s always given to me time, attention and information. He’s been very open and honest with me about everything, and I wouldn’t be standing here if it wasn’t for him.”
We’ll see if McDaniels can push his record to 2-0 against Belichick on Sunday afternoon.