The New England Patriots suffered an early playoff exit last night, which now makes their coaching staff available for teams seeking to pick off the Bill Belichick vine. The Dallas Cowboys could be one of those teams as they've just begun interviewing for the impending vacancy at head coach.
Jason Garrett is still technically here but isn't expected to get a new contract for 2020. It was reported yesterday that former NFL head coaches Mike McCarthy and Marvin Lewis would be interviewed by the Cowboys.
Another name linked to the Cowboys' search is Josh McDaniels, who as of last night was coordinating the Patriots' offense. While still only 43 years old, McDaniels has been working in the NFL since 2001 at various levels and mostly with New England.
McDaniels' coaching candidacy has been criticized by some after a brief, bad run with the Denver Broncos from 2009-2010. He had a losing record, controversy regarding star players Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, and will forever be linked with the decision to draft Tim Tebow in the first round.
But that was a decade ago, and McDaniels has been back under Belichick's wing as an assistant and coordinator since 2011. Could he be better prepared now for a head coaching oppoetunity?
Now that the 2019 season has ended for the Patriots, McDaniels and other New England coaches will be free to interview. We could find out as soon as today that Josh will join the list of prospects for the Cowboys' job.
But Josh McDaniels isn't the only option that last night's game may have brought to the table.
If you watched the Patriots' loss to the Titans, you heard the constant chatter from Tony Romo and Jim Nantz about the “end of an era” in New England. They were mostly referring to the future of Tom Brady, but could Bill Belichick also decide its time for a new chapter?
The general assumption is that the Patriots job is Belichick's for as long as he wants it, which seems pretty reasonable for a six-time Super Bowl champion. But if Brady decides to call it a career, does his longtime coach want to stay on?
We don't know the exact terms of Belichick's current contract with New England and neither he or owner Robert Kraft have been forthcoming with those details. Some have suggested that, at this point, it's a lifetime deal with mutual freedom by both parties to walk away when they choose.
If Bill is seeking a new challenge, overseeing the transition from Tom Brady to another quarterback certainly qualifies. But he could also want to preserve his legacy in New England and take his talents to another organization.
Back in 2003, Belichick's mentor Bill Parcells was seduced by the allure of America's Team. Fixing the Cowboys enticed Parcells enough to take on the challenge of working with Jerry Jones and trying to undo years of salary cap mismanagement and poor drafting.
Could Belichick be similarly drawn to the Cowboys job now? It's a much softer landing these days than it was for Parcells.
Of course, the Josh McDaniels option is way more realistic and even one of the most probable outcomes for the Cowboys. But if there's a way to get Bill Belichick to Dallas, you can bet Jerry is looking into it.