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PATRIOTS

Report: Josh McDaniels speaking to Las Vegas about head coach job

Josh McDaniels played a big part in Mac Jones (left) posting a better rookie season than each of the four quarterbacks taken before him in last year's NFL Draft.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Just Josh baby?

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was set to meet with Raiders owner Mark Davis Friday night and interview for the team’s head coaching job Saturday, according to NFL Network.

McDaniels will be the fourth person interviewed for the job, joining Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and Rich Bisaccia, who served as Las Vegas’s interim head coach after Jon Gruden resigned.

The Raiders have interviewed Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler and Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly for their vacant general manager’s post. Each has strong ties to McDaniels, setting the stage for a possible package deal.

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Both worked in Denver when McDaniels was the Broncos head coach in 2009-10, and Ziegler was teammates with McDaniels at John Carroll University.

McDaniels largely stayed off the radar during this go-around on the coaching carousel until this week, when several outlets, including the Associated Press and ESPN, reported his Raiders candidacy.

This would be a second shot at a head coaching position and a return to the AFC West for McDaniels, whose Broncos teams went 11-17 before he was fired in December 2010. He returned to New England in 2012.

McDaniels initially accepted the Colts top job in 2017, but changed his mind and decided to stay with the Patriots. He has consistently said he would love another chance to be a head coach “if it’s in the cards.”

Those cards appear to be in Las Vegas right now.

Long considered one of the brightest offensive minds in the game, McDaniels — one of the top paid assistants in the league at around $4 million per season — enjoyed a close relationship with Tom Brady as either quarterbacks coach and/or offensive coordinator from 2005-08 and again since 2012.

He’s also designed excellent game plans for Brady’s understudies. In 2016, with Brady serving a four-game suspension, McDaniels geared the offense to the strengths of Jimmy Garoppolo, then Jacoby Brissett when Garoppolo was hurt. The Patriots went 3-1.

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Last season, McDaniels’s plans were tailored to accentuate Cam Newton’s strengths, with RPOs introduced into the attacks. This summer, the 45-year-old McDaniels presided over the competition between Newton and Mac Jones. When the rookie won the job, he helped guide him through the season with aplomb.

Jones, the 15th overall pick, outperformed all four quarterbacks taken ahead of him in the draft, throwing for 3,313 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.

Late in the season, McDaniels received a glowing review from Bill Belichick, who said he’s “learned a lot” from his longtime coach, who began his pro career as personnel and coaching assistant in New England in 2001.

“I think Josh does a great job in really every area. I don’t think he really has any weaknesses as a coach. He understands what every player is doing on the field on offense and defense,” Belichick said. “He has a great vision for how to utilize the skills of the players on his side of the ball and how to try to attack the weaknesses, whether it be personnel weaknesses or schematic weaknesses, or how to try to force the opponent into a situation that he’s able to take advantage of.”

It’s clear Belichick has full confidence in the way McDaniels runs the New England offense.

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“He’s an excellent play-caller. Timing, setting up sequences of plays. Not necessarily one after the other, but maybe it’s by a situation or building it off something earlier in the game that he knows the opponent is going to be over there talking about,” Belichick said. “That’s kind of what he wants to do is talk about that because the next play is going to complement that or the next time that situation comes up. Josh is creative. He’s a very forward thinker. He’s got great poise during the game, never gets rattled, never loses the situation, loses track of the situation. He’s always a play or two ahead.”


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.