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Could the New England Patriots suffer some collateral damage if they remain on their current track?

Don’t be surprised if that happens.

While it’s safe to say Bill Belichick has turned things around in Foxborough, the six-time Super Bowl champions could say goodbye to one of the most important members of the organization after the season concludes.

After all, Robert Kraft may be forced to let a loyal employee go if his longtime head coach keeps the Patriots trending in the right direction.

Bill Belichick’s stock is way up thanks to a five-game winning streak

In early October, legitimate concerns existed about Bill Belichick’s ability to still put together a playoff-caliber team. Coming off a frustrating 7-9 campaign under Cam Newton, the Patriots started the season in a 2-4 hole, which raised obvious questions about the talent level of the roster, the effectiveness of the coaching staff, and the future of the franchise.

How quickly things can change, though.

Since falling in overtime to the Dallas Cowboys, New England has won five straight games by doing what it does best: making life miserable for opposing quarterbacks and utilizing a balanced attack to keep teams guessing on the other side of the ball.

To no surprise, Belichick has gotten more involved with the defense in the aftermath of the 35-29 loss to Dak Prescott and Co. And by putting his players in positions to succeed, he’s been rewarded with a run of dominance that’s helped the Patriots climb to No. 1 in points allowed at 16.1 per game.

Of course, they own a 7-4 record thanks to improved play on offense, too. Promising rookie Mac Jones hasn’t been perfect (eight interceptions and four fumbles in 11 starts), but he’s represented a substantial upgrade over Newton. Plus, the two-headed running back tandem of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson has proven difficult for defenses to stop.

While the Patriots have to prove they can defeat high-end opponents, there’s no doubt the arrow is pointing up for Belichick and his team. At this point, he seems likely to stick around for several more seasons, especially if Jones continues to progress and show he has what it takes to help the franchise capture Super Bowl title No. 7.

Robert Kraft may be forced to let a loyal employee go if the Patriots keep trending in the right direction under their legendary coach

Unfortunately for Robert Kraft, if his beloved team keeps racking up wins and establishing a case as a legitimate title contender, he may have no choice but to let a loyal member of the organization go.

After all, how much longer can the Patriots convince Josh McDaniels to keep working for them?

At 45 years old, the sharp-minded offensive coordinator undoubtedly has a better resume than most head coaching candidates. While McDaniels deserves criticism for backing out of his commitment to the Indianapolis Colts, he deserves credit for putting together top-10 offenses on an annual basis. His ability to take overlooked, undervalued skill players and find ways for them to make an impact stands out. So does his history of getting good play out of quarterbacks besides Tom Brady, as Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett, and Mac Jones have all performed well in his system.

McDaniels obviously didn’t fare well in his first go-around as an NFL head coach. However, his dismal stint with the Denver Broncos came a decade ago. Since then, he’s clearly proven capable of designing and calling plays at an elite level. And by helping Jones achieve immediate success, McDaniels has only strengthened his resume.

But that may not bode well for a Patriots team that seems destined to have Belichick at the helm for at least a few more years.

If the 69-year-old doesn’t have a clear retirement date in mind, or if that date is several years away, will McDaniels want to stick around until then? Why should he sell himself short and remain in an OC position just because Belichick isn’t ready to walk away? Shouldn’t he capitalize on his improved stock and find a situation where he can run his own team?

Kraft may have swayed McDaniels from boarding a plane to Indy, but he may have no choice but to allow him to move in a different direction. Largely passed over in the hiring process a year ago, it seems like Belichick’s right-hand man will receive ample interest this offseason. As much as it may pain Kraft to let one of his highest-paid employees go work for another NFL team, that seems like a realistic outcome given the circumstances in play.

Which NFL teams should Josh McDaniels have on his radar?


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If McDaniels wants to see if the grass is greener outside of New England, where should he go?

That depends on which jobs become available, but there are a few teams that make sense as potential fits for the well-respected offensive coordinator.

Obviously, the Jacksonville Jaguars must be in the conversation. They have a generational talent at quarterback and a head coach who doesn’t belong in pro football. If Shad Khan wants Trevor Lawrence to reach his ceiling, replacing Urban Meyer with McDaniels would raise the odds of that happening. And you can bet the longtime Patriots coach would have interest in working with an athletic, strong-armed passer who possesses All-Pro upside.

Similarly, the Chicago Bears should be considered a potential landing spot. Matt Nagy seems destined to get fired, which means the historic NFC North franchise will need to find a new leader. Why not hire McDaniels to work with Justin Fields? Just imagine what he could do with a quarterback who has all the physical tools needed to succeed in the modern era.

Don’t look past the New York Giants, either. Yes, they already poached from the Belichick tree by hiring Joe Judge. But after placing their faith in the hands of a special teams coordinator, why not go in the opposite direction and bring in one of the most gifted offensive minds in the league?

Ultimately, Josh McDaniels should expect his agent to receive at least a few phone calls over the coming months. And if Robert Kraft keeps celebrating victories this season, Bill Belichick may have a new offensive coordinator standing by his side in 2022.

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.