The New England Patriots are bracing for some of their top assistants to leave for higher-ranking jobs elsewhere this offseason. Josh McDaniels, who served as offensive coordinator for nine seasons and was instrumental in developing Mac Jones, is poaching assistants left and right after being named head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
The situation McDaniels is entering is not the same as the rebuild he walked into during his time with the Broncos. The Raiders have an established starter at quarterback in Derek Carr and are fresh off a postseason appearance, so the pressure will be on him immediately.
McDaniels has already done a good job of bringing over former Patriots, retaining standouts from Rich Bisaccia’s staff, and finding top assistants from around the league. The quarterback coach hire was going to be extremely important, and it looks like he went back to his New England staff to fill that vacancy.
McDaniels and the Raiders hired Bo Hardegree, who spent last year as an offensive assistant, to be the quarterback coach. Hardegree played a role in Jones’ fantastic rookie season, and the Patriots will need to scramble in order to replace him.
The Patriots losing Josh McDaniels, Bo Hardegree is bad for Mac Jones.
Hardegree got his start in the NFL in 2014 as a close friend of Adam Gase, whom he followed to Chicago. Hardegree made the trip to Miami with him and served as the quarterback coach there for two seasons before spending 2019 and 2020 as an assistant with the Jets. At age 37, his best years of coaching are in the windshield.
Hardegree’s return to the Patriots had an impact on Jones, especially in a pivotal offseason in which there was so much turnover in New England. Given how McDaniels operated as the team’s quarterback coach, the Patriots might have two different positions to fill with Hardegree going to Vegas.
Losing Ivan Fears as running back coach due to his retirement further thinned out this staff.
Criticism of Hardegree’s ability to develop a quarterback was nullified this year, as he helped Jones become the most accurate and composed of the four first-round rookie quarterbacks that saw major playing time. Hardegree will finally get a chance to work with a veteran in Carr.
This is one of the issues Jones will have to contend with in his pro career. If the offense is too effective and ruthlessly efficient, top assistants will get poached.
Time will tell if Jones can remain successful without McDaniels and Hardegree in his ear after every series.