The New England Patriots saw two holes in their organization open Sunday, as the Las Vegas Raiders hired Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as their head coach and assistant player personnel director of the Patriots Dave Ziegler as their GM. Ziegler served basically as a de facto GM with New England.
McDaniels spent 2005-2008 with New England, before coaching the Broncos to an 11-17 record through the 2009 and 2010 seasons, being fired by Denver and returning to the Patriots — he was with the team since 2011.
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McDaniels, nearly four years ago, changed his mind after originally accepting the offer to be the head coach of the Colts — a decision the 45-year-old has “no regrets” making.
Ziegler, the lesser-known name between the two, has been with New England since 2012, working three years as assistant director of scouting, four as director of pro personnel, before being promoted to assistant director of player personnel in 2020. The 44-year-old joins the Raiders after a successful nine years with New England.
There will be less of a hole to fill in Ziegler, and Eliot Wolf — a front office consultant — will likely take on a larger role because of it. There was some talk of him potentially being hired as a GM around the league after landing a job in New England in 2020 following 16 years with the Green Bay Packers, but no real buzz surrounded his name.
With Ziegler’s role likely being filled by Wolf, who will New England hire as their new offensive coordinator? Here’s a look into some potential options.
Potential internal options:
Nick Caley: Caley, the tight ends coach who has some experience on New England’s staff (seven years), but doesn’t have any experience calling plays.
Mick Lombardi: Lombardi, the receivers coach, is similar to Caley in that just doesn’t have any experience calling plays. He’s the son of former NFL GM Mike Lombardi.
Potential external options with prior relation to New England:
Bill O’Brien: O’Brien, the ex-Patriots OC and QB coach, might be considered by many as the most likely option, as he currently serves as Alabama’s offensive coordinator — assistant to Bill Belichick’s good friend Nick Saban. O’Brien was an important factor in the development of Deshaun Watson. Not to mention O’Brien has already worked with Mac Jones at Alabama.
Chad O’Shea: After 10 seasons as wide receivers coach with New England, the 49-year-old followed Brian Flores to Miami as an offensive coordinator. However, he was fired after just one season and is currently with the Browns as a wideout coach.
Entirely external potential options:
Frank Smith: Smith is the current offensive line coach and run game coordinator for the Chargers. He joined the team after a stint with the Raiders as a tight ends coach.
Duce Staley: The former Eagles running back spent 2011-2020 with the team, spending eight of those years as the running backs coach before joining Dan Campbell’s Lions staff as an assistant head coach and running back coach.
Bobby Slowik: After years with (what were then called) the Redskins as a defensive assistant, Slowik is in his second year as the 49ers’ offensive passing game specialist.
Mike Kafka: The former NFL quarterback is the Chiefs’ current quarterbacks coach and the passing game coordinator. With his experience already at just 34, which includes working with Patrick Mahomes, he’s destined to have a higher role in the future.
Pep Hamilton: Hamilton, the Texans’ current QB coach, and passing game coordinator, has been able to work with Andrew Luck (offensive coordinator of the Colts) and Justin Herbert (QB coach of the Chargers). He’s also worked with the Browns, Michigan Wolverines (NCAA), and Bears with similar roles. Hamilton was also the head coach for the DC Defenders of the XFL, working with Panthers QB P.J. Walker at the time.
Joe Brady: Brady was let go after less than two seasons with the Panthers as an offensive coordinator, but he could return to the seat of a coordinator soon. Before, he’s had experience working with the Saints and LSU with smaller roles.
Ken Dorsey: Dorsey, the Bills’ current QB coach, and passing game coordinator has been able to work with both Cam Newton — in his prime — and Josh Allen. In college, playing for Miami, he was a two-time Heisman finalist, before spending a short while in the NFL after being a seventh-round pick by San Francisco in 2003.