With the Patriots and Josh McDaniels finalizing an agreement for McDaniels to re-join the coaching staff as an assistant for the playoffs and as offensive coordinator in 2012 (link here), maybe the only piece left to dissect is this: What will McDaniels' role entail in the playoffs?
There seem to be two main layers to it -- preparation and on game day.
In terms of preparation, McDaniels figures to have significant input, with his information being utilized as part of the game-plan process. The Patriots will play either the Steelers or Broncos, and McDaniels had game-planned for the Steelers prior to a Dec. 24 game, and he used to coach the Broncos. His knowledge of personnel and scheme figures to be tapped in the coaches' meeting room.
That looks like the easy part.
The more intriguing aspect is what type of role McDaniels might have on game day. Will he be on the sidelines or in the coaching booth? Will he be part of the play-calling process?
It's unusual to see a coach integrated into the mix like this after a regular season in which roles have been clearly defined and carried out. In fact, we can't think of a precedent in recent history. Surely, Bill Belichick has an idea of how it will all work, as well as the confidence that McDaniels will fill whatever role he has in mind. Belichick probably feels the past working relationship with McDaniels (offensive coordinator) and Bill O'Brien (offensive assistant/wide receivers) from 2007-2008 makes an unusual move like this easier to execute.