There are a lot of storylines taking place at the same time for the Patriots on Sunday as they match up against the Jets for the final game of the 2023 season. Most of the conversation has focused on the uncertainty of Bill Belichick's future with the franchise and the increasingly strong likelihood that this will be Matthew Slater's last time suiting up for the team before retiring.
But now there's a new story to pay attention to.
As fans were heading into the snowy stadium this afternoon, it was reported by multiple publications that former offensive coordinator and recently fired Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels was in attendance for the game.
This is the first time McDaniels has been seen publicly since he was let go from Las Vegas. Given how tumultuous his time appeared out west and how they responded upon his firing, it's not surprising in the least that he took some time to be out of the spotlight for a bit.
But now that he's reappeared and coincidentally it's at the Patriots last game of the season, could there be a more significant meaning to it?
The speculation is that he wants to be there for Slater's last game of his NFL career, which makes sense since he was a coach for the Patriots for nearly the special teamers' entire career. But since this could also be Belichick's final game, perhaps he's also there to sniff out another opportunity to rejoin the team as a coordinator or possibly succeed Belichick.
McDaniels hasn't been a name floated as a possible candidate to replace the longtime head coach, as most chatter has only involved Jerod Mayo or Mike Vrabel. However, for years, it seemed he was being groomed to take over whenever Belichick chose to retire, which most believed was his reasoning for shockingly forgoing his head coaching job with the Colts several years back.
Then there was the assumption he would make his way back to Foxboro after leaving the Raiders, as many former coaches have done over the years, yet nothing was ever reported about that possibility.
It's possible he really is just there to celebrate Slater's career, and maybe even Belichick's, and that's it. We may never know. But it does seem like coincidental timing, and we should definitely keep this in mind as we head into the offseason.
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