Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Sunday 7: Some thoughts on Josh McDaniels, Nick Caserio

Ryan Hannable
December 31, 2017 - 6:00 am

1. With the Patriots earning a first-round bye, this coming week the focus will be on the Patriots coaches and executives potentially interviewing for other jobs. Coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, as well as director of player personnel Nick Caserio will likely be highly sought after. McDaniels has interviewed for a handful of head coaching jobs in recent years, but given he’s already been a head coach once, he’s carefully picking his next spot and therefore hasn’t left New England. There was a thought the Giants gig might be the perfect landing spot, but with all the internal team issues this year, as well as the organization hiring Dave Gettleman as general manager Friday, maybe it isn’t the best fit after all. What’s not being discussed as much as it should is McDaniels (head coach) and Caserio (GM) succeeding Bill Belichick in New England. The two go back to their days at John Carroll University, have a great relationship, and know each other extremely well. Belichick is 65 years old and said on his “A Football Life” feature he doesn't want to coach into his 70s like Marv Levy. This would mean he has less than five years left, and it isn’t like McDaniels and Caserio are getting up there in age. Caserio is 42, while McDaniels is 41, which is still considered fairly young for NFL head coaches and GMs. If there is a handshake agreement behind the scenes of McDaniels-Caserio taking over when Belichick steps away, the two can now have more of a say with the decisions that impact the team long-term. For example, McDaniels would have an important role in the next quarterback the Patriots bring in, as he likely will be Tom Brady’s replacement. There may not be a better organization in the NFL, so why go elsewhere when an opportunity might present itself a few years down the road? If they both know for sure Belichick will step away within a few years, it absolutely makes most sense for them to stay in New England. So, while the majority of the discussion with these two is what other organizations would be the best fit, maybe they are already with the best fit and now it’s a matter of when Belichick steps away, and it may not be as far away as some think.

2. Patricia, who has interviewed for head coaching jobs the past couple of years, may be presented with a few good opportunities again this year, but he will have a tough decision to make. What if Belichick only has a few more years left -- wouldn’t it make sense for both he and McDaniels to stay in their current roles to try and win another Super Bowl or two before both Belichick and Brady retire? Regardless, if the Lions and/or Titans jobs become available, Patricia and McDaniels will be top candidates, as former Patriots executive Bob Quinn is the GM of the Lions and former Patriots executive Jon Robinson is the GM of the Titans.

3. Something to watch Sunday is 49ers’ second-round pick, which will go to the Patriots as the pick exchanged for Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s a bit complicated with so many teams involved, but the best the Patriots could do is No. 37 overall (a 49ers loss and Buccaneers, Broncos, Jets wins). The worst the Patriots could do is No. 43 overall (a 49ers win and Jets, Bears, Bengals and Raiders lose). No matter what it is, the Patriots did not expect it to be close to pick No. 40 when they made the trade.

4. New Patriots outside linebacker James Harrison is already fitting in with his new team. Harrison cut his media session short just under two minutes on Friday after not getting any questions about this weeks opponent, the Jets. The 39-year-old is all business, which goes along with his decision to sign with the Patriots after being released by the Steelers last weekend. Harrison was without a job and then presented with the opportunity to join a Super Bowl contender -- pretty much a no-brainer for any competitor -- so it's a bit puzzling why there's so much outrage in Pittsburgh when the team released him in the first place.

5. Sunday could be the coldest regular-season game in Patriots history, as the forecast calls for a high of 13 degrees. The previous coldest was 14 degrees vs. Miami in 1977. The coldest game in Gillette Stadium history was in the 2003 playoffs against the Titans when the temperature was four degrees. Since the extreme cold was predicted so early in the week, the organization was able to order 65,000 hand warmers to hand out to fans as they enter the stadium. Also, blankets will be permitted, and on the way out fans are encouraged to place them in bins, which they will then be cleaned and donated to local charities.

6. Players who are on injured reserve sometimes appear in the locker room as they mingle with their teammates. We’ve seen Julian Edelman, Cyrus Jones, Derek Rivers, etc. in the last few weeks, but Friday for the first time since his car accident in October Harvey Langi made an appearance. Langi appeared to be walking normally and was in good spirits speaking with his teammates. There’s been no official update on his injuries since the accident, but him being at the facility and in the locker room certainly was a good sign.

7. Belichick has always shown an admiration for NFL Films and it showed up again this week when it released a piece featuring Belichick re-uniting with Rick Forzano, who is the coach who gave Belichick his first ever, full-time coaching job in the NFL. Forzano hired Belichick as the Lions’ tight ends coach in 1976. Before the Patriots’ preseason game in Detroit this summer, Belichick, his sons and a few other Patriots met Forzano. Click here to watch the piece.