New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick once considered retiring before the age of 70. Coincidentally, that would be this season, which would perfectly align with former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ decision to leave Foxborough to join the Las Vegas Raiders.
Instead of leading the Death Star into the desert, McDaniels could have delivered the sleeveless hoodie off the back of Darth Belichick himself—an honor that would make the Iron Throne look like a cheap, folding garage chair.
Patriots fans would have welcomed the succession plan with open arms, given that McDaniels was there for each Super Bowl.
When the Patriots shocked the world by upsetting “The Greatest Show on Turf,” a young McDaniels was working and learning as a staff assistant. When the team defeated the mighty Legion of Boom in Super Bowl XLIX, he was the man on the sideline wearing the offensive headset. When Tom Brady completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history against the Atlanta Falcons, McDaniels was the one in Brady’s ear for every second.
In many ways, it’s almost as if he was groomed to take the reins when a sullen Belichick finally decided to ride off into the sunset. It could have been a seamless transition for a team with more questions than answers right now with the coaching staff.
Jerod Mayo could have taken over the defensive play-calling, while Matt Patricia remained on staff as a senior consultant/assistant. Joe Judge could have focused on quarterbacks. McDaniels could have handled the offensive play-calling, along with serving as the head coach. But he would likely be more open than Belichick to bringing in an outsider to take some of the load off his plate.
That’s without even mentioning the built-in connection he would already have with players, including quarterback Mac Jones. Things would probably be a lot less chaotic than they are now, with Belichick acting as the de facto everything.
And that doesn’t mean the legendary coach won’t put it all together like the mad genius that he is and wrap a beautiful bow around it. Only a fool would undersell Belichick, who many consider to be the greatest coach who ever lived.
But at 70, he has more responsibilities now than ever, with no real succession plan in sight.
And maybe he doesn’t want to. Maybe the fire from coaching still burns as bright as when it first started. Maybe 70 was just a number that sounded good in his head until he actually got to it and reality told him otherwise.
On Friday night, the Patriots will close out their preseason bracket against the Raiders, who will have Belichick sharing the field with McDaniels for the first time since the team’s 47-17 playoff loss to Buffalo Bills. If nothing else, it will be a preview exhibition ahead of the Week 15 matchup between the two teams later this year on December 18th.
Darth Hoodie vs. the former apprentice of many years on the Death Star—for Patriots fans, it will be a reminder of what could have been the perfect succession plan.
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This story originally appeared on Patriots Wire