Links: McDaniels Returns to the Patriots, Officially

With the Denver Broncos set to meet the New England Patriots today, NFL pundits are double-checking their notes and rehearsing their predictable, hackneyed storylines.  Many Broncos players will be "facing" the man that brought them in, by which I mean they will be facing the Patriots, while the extent of Josh McDaniels' role is currently unknown and nowhere as expansive as the writers want us to believe.

Masshole Sports' response to Klis and the cries of cheating.
Now that McDaniels' return to the Patriots is official, opinions vary.  The few Chiefs fans that genuinely wanted him are despondent, the rest are jubilant, or masking their bitterness over losing out with jubilance.  Patriots fans appear overwhelmingly positive, save for the odd goof that, blaming the Super Bowl defeat against the New York Giants on McDaniels, belligerently opposes the move.  Others, like the Denver Post's Mike Klis (the article itself doesn't deserve your page view, so I linked to Pats Pulpit's excellent response instead), are screaming bloody murder because the cheating Patriots™ have circumvented the rules yet again, despite the fact that when the Dallas Cowboys did the same thing, no one cared.  They're not the cheating Patriots™, after all.  As for me, let's revisit what I last said:
...I'm both excited and disappointed.  The Patriots will probably be an easier challenge than, say, the Kansas City Chiefs, and thus probably provide less room for growth, but can anyone blame him for preferring a less tumultuous location right now?  It's also worth mentioning that the Chiefs, when McDaniels talked with the Patriots, still hadn't asked the Rams for permission to meet with him.  Give credit to the Patriots here, they went out and got their man while the Chiefs twiddled their thumbs.
Nothing has changed from how I felt here.  With the lockout, shorter training period, abundant injuries, and requisite learning curve, McDaniels' first year with the Rams was a gimme.  Ideally, he could have stayed for one more year to confirm where that offence was headed.  The massive coaching turnover (and player, eventually, too) may have thrown any sort of continuity out the window, however, and the resultant uncertainty could very well have been a step back for the team and McDaniels, too, so departing now, for all we know, isn't as bad for Bradford & Co. as I may think.  And where Bradford goes, now, is a mystery.  We don't know whether he will ever have a coach of McDaniels' calibre again, and losing him will alter the trajectory of his career.  I believe he was headed upward with McDaniels; the troubles of this year would have been an aberration.  I still think he will improve (and people will no doubt point to that improvement as proof of McDaniels' incompetency), but by how much, we don't know.  If the Rams don't put him in a position to succeed, it is certain that that improvement will not be as steep were he still with McDaniels.

Returning to the Patriots will ultimately prove to have been the safest move, like returning to the comfort of a parents' home.  Was it the best move?  That, we don't know, either.  But it feels like going back to square one, where going to the Chiefs would rather feel like the next square on this journey.  But, here in the comfort of his Patriots home, Josh will be given the chance to quietly rejuvenate and safely prepare for his next step. 

And at least one thing is for sure: unlike Chiefs fans, most Patriots fans are glad to have him back.  This is the most united a fanbase has been regarding his hiring since the last time he was involved in a Broncos-Patriots game.  For once, I won't have to face the grind of an ignorant, perpetually negative collective.  And I, too, am home, again.

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