When the New England Patriots face the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs on Saturday night, they will have a familiar face on their sideline. Joining the Patriots for the first all season will be former Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels, who served as Offensive Coordinator for the St. Louis Rams this season. McDaniels coached with the Patriots from 2001-08.
Following the dismisssal of Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, the team gave McDaniels permission to seek other opportunities. Now McDaniels, who drafted Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas, returns to the Patriots. McDaniels’ arrival is timely, as current Patriots Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien has accepted the head coaching position at Penn State.
Mike Klis of the Denver Post and Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports have voiced their displeasure with this arrangement. However, NFL has stated that there is no rule prohibiting such a move. In fact, according to ESPNBoston.com, there is precedent. In 2009, Paul Pasqualoni (now coach of the UConn Huskies) joined in the Cowboys during the playoffs after spending the regular season with the Miami Dolphins.
Although Tom Brady has mentioned that McDaniels can provide inside information, keep in mind that the Broncos are running an entirely different scheme this year under a new coaching staff. Moreover, the Patriots and Broncos should be very familiar with each other, having played a few weeks ago. Despite the noise about McDaniels’ hiring, this game will be decided on the field.