The Patriots are in the market for a new offensive coordinator, as Josh McDaniels has agreed to terms on a contract to become the Denver Broncos' new head coach, the Broncos confirmed last night.
The Denver Post also reported that McDaniels plans to have Patriots special assistant/secondary coach Dom Capers join his staff, although that could not be confirmed.
McDaniels, 32, will replace Mike Shanahan, who was fired after the Broncos' late-season collapse. Shanahan was one of the NFL's longest-tenured coaches with the same team, having spent the last 14 years with the Broncos.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that the Broncos are expected to announce the deal with McDaniels - whom the team may view as a younger version of Shanahan - today.
McDaniels entered the NFL with the Patriots in 2001, and first served as a personnel assistant/coaching assistant. By 2006, he was calling plays as the team's offensive coordinator while also working with Patriots quarterbacks. He was widely praised for his work this season with Matt Cassel, who hadn't started a game since high school.
While the Broncos are most in need of defensive help, and the majority of McDaniels's NFL coaching career has come on the offensive side, McDaniels has worked with defensive players and his understanding of personnel carries over to that side of the ball as well. In 2002, his responsibilities included scouting preparations for the defensive staff and in 2003 he worked with defensive backs.
Within the last two weeks, McDaniels had interviewed for head coaching jobs with the Broncos, Browns, and Rams. The initial interview with the Broncos was held in Providence Jan. 4, while a second interview came this past Thursday.
McDaniels, who becomes the NFL's youngest head coach, was one of seven assistant coaches interviewed by the Broncos.
As for how the Patriots, who are scheduled to play the Broncos in 2009, will fill the void, the rest of the offensive coaching staff consists of running backs coach Ivan Fears, tight ends coach Pete Mangurian, receivers coach Bill O'Brien, and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Of that group only Mangurian has held the title of offensive coordinator in the NFL, in 2003 with the Falcons. O'Brien was offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech in 2001-02 and at Duke in 2006.
Coach Bill Belichick presumably would prefer to promote from within, because the team isn't likely to alter its system and a coordinator coming from another team likely would take time to adjust to the Patriots' way.
It's also possible Belichick could take a more active role in play-calling.