‘Forgotten’ coach will help Patriots cope with Josh McDaniels loss

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 09: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 09: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Not only did the New England Patriots lose an integral part of their offensive infrastructure when Josh McDaniels agreed to become the next head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, but they lost some of their top assistants in Mick Lombardi and Carmen Bricillo when the former Pats offensive coordinator lured them away. 

So far, Bill Belichick’s attempts to replace them have been met with skepticism. On top of the fact that Joe Judge was rehired to have a role on the offensive side of the ball, there is a nonzero chance that former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia ends up as a play-caller and an offensive line coach. That would be … not ideal.

Many Patriots wanted former OC and current Alabama play-caller Bill O’Brien to replace McDaniels, but it looks like he’s staying in Tuscaloosa. As odd as it may sound, the best candidate for the job might already be hanging out on the Patriots coaching staff.

As Phil Perry notes, Nick Caley, who has spent the last five seasons as the tight ends coach, might be the best option when it comes to calling plays. Considering the equity he has built up within that organization, giving him more responsibility would be better than promoting Judge or Patricia.

Could Nick Caley help Patriots replace Josh McDaniels?

With the impending retirement of Ivan Fears, Caley will be the longest-tenured member of this coaching staff. With experience on both sides of the ball and his work with both Rob Gronkowski and Hunter Henry earning him some praise, Caley is more than qualified for a de facto or de jure coordinator job. We all know how much Belichick values continuity.

With New England likely hiring from within instead of looking at external candidates, the expectation is that they will run a very similar offense to what McDaniels did. If Caley can add a few tweaks here and there, Mac Jones should be able to elevate his game in Year 2.

Albert Breer already named Caley on a list of potential head coaching candidates in the future. With a few years of experience under his belt helping Jones sustain his accurate passing, Caley could help keep New England’s offense rolling and also set himself up for a head coaching gig.

When the Patriots promoted a 30-year-old McDaniels to offensive coordinator, did anyone expect that he would play such an integral role in the two-decade dynasty? Caley could be in for a similarly meteoric rise if he ends up ensuring that Jones becomes a star in this league.