Josh McDaniels returned to the Patriots during the postseason last year after his duties with the St. Louis Rams had ended. Since McDaniels has been back in Foxborough there has a been a major feeling that he has more of Bill Belichick's ear than he did previously, or Bill O'Brien had the past few years.
It is not a coincidence that McDaniels' favorites, Brandon Lloyd, Spencer Larsen and Jabar Gaffney, have all signed with the Patriots this offseason. Belichick seems to have a new found respect for McDaniels now that McDaniels knows what it is like to be in the shoes of a head coach.
All that being said, could the organization now be viewing McDaniels as the eventual successor to Belichick when the time comes? My thought is yes.
The Kraft family is obviously very much behind Belichick after all of the success he has brought them, so naturally they may feel his way of doing things is the best way to go. McDaniels has already shown he is the no-nonsense type of guy Belichick is.
He has shown, just like BB, he is not afraid to make the unpopular move. Belichick went for it on forth-and-two vs. the Colts, McDaniels traded Jay Cutler. Belichick traded away Randy Moss, McDaniels dealt Brandon Marshall. McDaniels, who was brought up through the ranks by Belichick, has become Belichick 2.0.
McDaniels staying on as coach you would keep intact the high-powered offensive system that Patriot fans know and love, and if he were to keep defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on board, it would be as close as you can come to feeling like Belichick never left.
Of course it is not that simple, and not having Belichick involved in weekly game-planning or on the sidelines making adjustments would put a chink in the Patriots armor. However, keeping the rest of his staff intact with McDaniels at the helm would be the next best thing to having Belichick still around.
But Belichick doesn't seem to be in a hurry to leave the sidelines anytime soon. So, whether McDaniels is indeed viewed as the head coach in waiting or not, this discussion probably will not be relevant for at least a few more years.