NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Most head coaches are willing to endorse an assistant as a head-coaching candidate given the chance.
Bill Belichick is unwilling to be perceived in any way, shape or form as looking beyond the next game.
So when I asked the New England Patriots coach this week in a conference call if he thought his offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, is equipped for a second head-coaching job and could follow a course similar to Belichick's own, he had nothing to say.
“I have no idea,” he said. “Really, I have no idea.”
When the Tennessee Titans interview candidates to be their next head coach, McDaniels could well be on the list. He didn’t fare well in a 28-game term as Denver Broncos head coach in 2009-10. But I’ve spoken to people familiar with him who think he’s built to follow a Belichickian trajectory and fare far better with a second chance.
If McDaniels lands a job after this season and does have success, he’ll break a string of less-than-stellar head-coaching tours for Belichick assistants.
McDaniels called plays for Denver’s offense during his time there. Considering how badly Ken Whisenhunt struggled as a play-calling head coach, the Titans could be wary of having another one. But controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk and Steve Underwood, her top lieutenant who’s likely to help filling the vacancy, weren’t involved in bringing Whisenhunt aboard and might not be reluctant to hire another dual-role coach. Or McDaniels might not want to call plays in a second stint at the helm.
McDaniels is likely to be considered for multiple open jobs after fine work adapting the Patriots' offense around injuries that depleted their offensive line and receiving corps.
I asked ESPN.com Patriots reporter Mike Reiss for his thoughts on McDaniels as a candidate.
Said Reiss: If the goal is to hire the coach who will get the most out of Marcus Mariota, I view McDaniels as an A-plus choice. That’s his specialty, working with quarterbacks. But as we know, the job of head coach is so much more than that. It’s CEO-type stuff, and I’m a big believer in McDaniels as both a person of high character/integrity and a manager of people. He made some mistakes in Denver in his first chance at the top job, and he’s taken a step back since to break it all down and determine what he’ll do differently if given the opportunity again. Much like Bill Belichick and how his initial experience in Cleveland (1991-95) helped him when he got a second crack at it in New England (2000-present), I think McDaniels will benefit much the same way in his second time around.”