His name isn't exactly on par with Tom Brady or Randy Moss when fans and media types are heaping praise on the Patriots' offense, but sooner or later people are going to start recognizing what Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is doing these days in New England. The 31-year-old rising star coach is in just his second season officially carrying the title of coordinator, but the work he's doing on a weekly basis this fall -- admittedly made easier thanks to the impressive talent he has to work with -- is of the record-setting variety.
"He's the guy that puts it all together every single week," backup quarterback Matt Cassel said. "He orchestrates this offense and he does such a marvelous job of getting us prepared and making sure that we know what to do and how the operation is supposed to flow when we go out on the game field. So he's an integral part of what we do and he's done a great job all throughout the year."
McDaniels, who also serves as the Patriots' quarterbacks coach, actually got his start in New England at the very infancy of a football dynasty in 2001 as a coaching assistant on the defensive side of the ball. According to his star pupil, Brady, that background is just one of many aspects of McDaniels' growing coaching experiences that has made him so successful in such a short period of time.
"It's great that he started on defense early in his career under coach (Bill) Belichick so when he evaluates defenses, he looks at them through really a defensive perspective, which allows you to find the strengths and the weaknesses of what that team does. Very much like our offense does, that's what we try to do," Brady said. "We don't try to just bang our heads against the wall for 60 minutes. You try to find mismatches and try to exploit them the best that you can. What Josh does, I don't think there's anybody else who does as good a job as Josh in doing that."
From the perspective of the guy who promoted the fast-riser to play-caller following Charlie Weis' departure after the 2004 season, it's the total package that McDaniels brings to the table that makes him such an effective young coach.
"It's a mosaic of 200 things that go into that position, or maybe more. You just try to fit them all together and have a balance and not get too heavy on one thing or too light on the other, but keep it all in perspective," Belichick said. "Josh is very good at that. He is composed. He's not a real up and down, emotional roller coaster kind of guy. He's consistent and he's steady and I think that works in his favor too."
So while Brady is getting his well-deserved praise for his numbers this season when finally surrounded with a group of proven playmakers, McDaniels is deserving of the same kinds of hype. As is the case with Brady, McDaniels proved his worth in his first official season as a coordinator a year ago when he drew up offenses that reached the brink of another Super Bowl berth with a less than overwhelming roster of offensive weapons. Now, with guys like Moss, Donte' Stallworth and Wes Welker, McDaniels' game plans and play calling have been virtually unstoppable. A year ago he did more with less, now he's doing even more with more.
In a league where young coaches like Lane Kiffin and Eric Mangini -- who spent just a single season as New England's defensive coordinator before getting the head job with the Jets -- are given opportunities earlier in their careers than ever before, McDaniels could very well be on the fast track to a head coaching job.
"You'd have to think so if you look at the young coaches in this league," Cassel said. "You'd have to put him up there in the upper echelon of those guys. What he's been able to do in just the few years that he's been the offensive coordinator here is pretty spectacular. So I guess you could definitely consider him up there."
He has to be at least up for consideration for a promotion in the near future because in the end the NFL is a bottom line business that's all about production. McDaniels has shown he can put together productive offenses over the last two seasons while working with many different players and varying degrees of talent. When 2007 is over he may have overseen the most productive offense in the history of the game. People across the league will notice. That's good for McDaniels, but at some point it could be a bad thing for the Patriots.