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Josh McDaniels has been “ready to lead for the past few seasons”

Patriots’ OC could be among candidates to be next Giants’ coach

NFL: New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
Josh McDaniels
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Josh McDaniels might not be interested in talking about the New York Giants right now. With the Giants in need of a coach for the 2018 season that, though, doesn’t mean we can’t begin talking about McDaniels. Or, for that matter, any New England assistant coaches, executives, or former executives who might be candidates for the Giants’ vacant general manager and head coaching positions.

With that in mind, I reached out to Rich Hill, head honcho of SB Nation’s Patriots web site, Pats Pulpit, for some thoughts on the Giants’ quest to fill those two vacancies.

McDaniels was just 33 when the Denver Broncos hired him away from the Patriots to be their head coach in 2009. That made him the league’s youngest head coach.

Things did not go well. The Broncos went 8-8 in McDaniels’ first year, and he was fired 12 games into his second season with Denver at 3-9.

Issues with players like Jay Cutler and current Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall marred McDaniels’ time in Denver. His tenure with the Broncos sounds eerily reminiscent of Ben McAdoo’s time with the Giants, and lasted the same number of games.

As late as 2016, Broncos’ fans were still bitter about McDaniels’ time in Denver.

Several seasons later and after spending the past six seasons back with the Patriots, Hill believes McDaniels, now 41, is different.

“I think Josh McDaniels is going to be an outstanding coach because he’s learned from his errors with the Broncos. He’s a brilliant offensive mind and he’s been in a league of his own at calling games and making adjustments since the 2014 season,” Hill wrote in an e-mail. “His biggest flaw was his inability to forge relationships with players and the organization and he’s actively tried to improve on that front since his return to the Patriots. He’s been ready to lead for the past few seasons.”

McDaniels interviewed for at least three head-coaching vacancies last offseason — the San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams. He is expected to be hotly-sought after again this offseason. Could the Giants be the team that entices him to leave a great situation with New England?

“I think the Giants are a great spot for a few reasons,” Hill wrote. “First, there’s obvious talent on offense. There are elite receivers, a tight end, running backs, and the potential for a quarterback with Eli or a top draft pick. Then there’s the top-rated defense from 2016, with two coaches of which he’s familiar. Steve Spagnuolo hired McDaniels in 2011 with the St. Louis Rams and Patrick Graham was the Patriots linebackers coach; McDaniels could keep the defensive coaching staff together due to pre-existing familiarity. If the Giants can get an offensive line and some linebackers, then this team could contend with any franchise in the NFL.”

Considering that the Giants are 2-10, 31st in the league on offense with an average of 15.8 points per game and last in the league on defense in yards allowed it isn’t easy to read someone gushing about the talent base the Giants possess. Hill, though, isn’t really that far off base. The Giants, at least with the roster that began the season, should be better than a 2-10 team.

GM candidates

Current New England Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio is often mentioned as potential Giants’ GM. He has been in his current role since 2008, and has been with the organization as either a coach or part of the personnel department since 2001.

Hill wonders why the 41-year-old Caserio would leave New England.

“It would be a major shock if Nick Caserio left the Patriots for another team because what is he going to gain? Sure, he reports to Bill Belichick, but he has near-unilateral decision making with roster construction,” Hill wrote. “All that would really change would be the job title (“Director of Player Personnel” vs. “General Manager”) and he would get out of Belichick’s shadow. I’m not sure that he feels there is a need for that.”

Scott Pioli was in charge of player personnel with New England before Caserio, doing that job under a couple of different titles from 2001-2008. He was GM of the Kansas City Chiefs from 2009-2012, but his teams had only one winning season in four years.

Pioli is currently assistant general manager with the Atlanta Falcons, and his name always pops up among teams searching for a general manager. Especially if there is also a coaching vacancy that McDaniels could fill.

“Scott Pioli makes a lot more sense. He’s done a pretty great job with roster construction at every stop and he’s definitely familiar and friendly with McDaniels,” Hill wrote. “They’d be a great duo together and would offer the best chance to recreate the Patriots dynasty in the NFC.”