FOXBOROUGH — Though he was considered a potential candidate after seven NFL coaches were fired on Monday, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels won’t be going anywhere for now.
ESPN reported that McDaniels informed teams on Monday that he will remain with the Patriots and not interview for any head coaching vacancies.
McDaniels had been rumored to be on a short list of candidates in Cleveland, particularly if the Browns hire current NFL Network insider and former personnel executive Michael Lombardi.
Under league rules, teams could have requested interviews with McDaniels this week since the Patriots have a first-round playoff bye.
During a conference call Monday morning, McDaniels, who returned to New England late last season, was asked about potential head coaching opportunities.
“Here’s what I’ll say about that: I’m thrilled to be back here and came back here for all the right reasons — to learn and to get better as a coach, to work in an organization that I really have a great deal of respect and appreciation for,” he said. “I’m happy here. My family is happy here. We’re excited about what’s ahead of us here in the playoffs, and to talk about any other opportunities at this point is, to me, irrelevant, because I’m totally focused on this season and what this season holds.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be here and be a New England Patriot and try to do the best job that I can with the title I have right now.”
McDaniels first joined the Patriots in 2001 as a personnel assistant, then moved to coaching the next season, spending two years as a defensive assistant.
He moved to the offensive side of the ball, as quarterbacks coach, in 2004, and formally assumed the offensive coordinator title in 2006, maintaining his role as quarterbacks coach.
McDaniels’s star rose during the 2008 season when he tutored Matt Cassel, who had not been a starter since high school, through a solid performance while Tom Brady was out with a knee injury.
The Broncos hired McDaniels as head coach in early 2009, when he was just 33 years old. But he lasted just 28 games in Denver, fired in December 2010 after the Broncos posted a 3-9 record through the first dozen games of the season.
The pinnacle of his brief tenure in Denver may have been an overtime win against the Patriots. McDaniels celebrated enthusiastically on the field afterward, pumping his fist and pointing to his family in the stands. Denver won its next game to move to 6-0, but then lost 17 of his last 22 games as head coach.
McDaniels spent 2011 as the Rams’ offensive coordinator, but was released from his contract in January and was rehired by the Patriots as an offensive assistant during the playoff run.
When Bill O’Brien left to coach Penn State after the Super Bowl, McDaniels resumed his offensive coordinator role.
McDaniels was asked how he’d be a better head coach now than he was a few years ago.
“I think that every opportunity that you have, and certainly [all] that I’ve gone through since I started a long time ago, in 2001, here, has been a learning experience for me,” he said. “There are certainly going to be mistakes along the way in every role that you hold and that you have an opportunity to work in.
“I think as long as you can go through that process and try to get better from each mistake that you make or from each positive result that you get, there’s always something to learn from those things and try to make you a better coach, a better leader, a better teacher, a better person, a better communicator, a better staff member.
“Hopefully, that’s what I’ve tried to do with all my experiences, including the ones that I’ve recently had that weren’t here in New England. I hope every day that I’m better than I was the day before, and that every year I can say the same thing. So, hopefully going forward in any role that I have, I want to be as good as I can be for that organization that I’m working for. And like I said, I couldn’t be more happy to be here in New England.”
On the same conference call, Bill Belichick appraised McDaniels’s work this season.
“I do think that [McDaniels rejoining the staff] at the end of the season last year was important. It was good because it gave him an opportunity to see and interact and be involved firsthand, see where we were with some of those guys,” Belichick said, noting that several offensive players currently on the roster weren’t with the Patriots when McDaniels left after the 2008 season.
“Josh, he does a good job in all areas: player evaluation, scheme, technique, play-calling, getting everything coordinated. He does a good job,” Belichick said. “I’ve been really fortunate with Charlie [Weis], Josh, Billy O’Brien; we’ve had really good offensive coordinators here along with the rest of the offensive staff, because they all do work together on it.
“[McDaniels has] done a solid job for us. He’s meant a lot, as all the assistants have. The staff has done a good job this year. They’ve worked hard. I think we’ve improved as a team. That’s really what you need to do, especially in this league. Through training camp, you’ve got to improve through the course of the season, and you have to be a better team at the end than you were at the beginning. I think they’ve worked hard to do that.”