FOXBOROUGH, Mass. —It's official. Josh McDaniels will return to the New England Patriots as an offensive assistant this week, and will serve under Bill O'Brien, the offensive coordinator who was named coach at Penn State on Saturday.
The team made the announcement Sunday night.
O'Brien, introduced in State College, Pa., over the weekend, was due to fly back to Massachusetts on Sunday night, so he and McDaniels can gameplan for the Denver Broncos in the AFC divisional round. The Patriots, the AFC's No. 1 seed, had a bye this weekend.
McDaniels, 35, worked for New England from 2001-2008, including three seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was the head coach for the Broncos from 2009-10, before becoming the offensive coordinator in St. Louis this season.
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Once O'Brien's tenure officially ends in Foxborough, McDaniels will again become the offensive coordinator for the Patriots.
A native of Barberton, Ohio, McDaniels will go from near the bottom of the NFL after spending the season with the Rams (2-14), to a shot at the Super Bowl with a team that has a 13-3 record.
Interestingly enough, McDaniels' first game back in New England will be against the team that gave him his biggest chance in the NFL. But the Broncos, who drafted quarterback Tim Tebow during McDaniels' tenure, went in another direction after McDaniels lost 17 of his last 22 games.
McDaniels was the only Rams assistant under contract through next season when former head coach Steve Spagnuolo was fired last week.
"I'm sure Josh will have opportunities around the NFL to possibly be a coordinator or better throughout this process," Kevin Demoff, the Rams vice president and chief operating officer, said at the time. "It's going to be fluid, but we'll figure out what's best for both parties."
The Rams scored the fewest points per game in the league (12.1), gained the second fewest yards (283.6), and the third fewest yards passing (179.4). Sam Bradford struggled at quarterback with just six touchdown passes and six interceptions in McDaniels' system, which had many more longer developing pass plays than the Rams had in 2010 under Pat Shurmur, who left to be head coach of the Cleveland Browns after last season.
McDaniels said on Dec. 29, three days before a season-ending 34-27 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, that he had no regrets.
"You're blessed to have the opportunity to coach in the National Football League," he said. "You have to do everything you can to try to help the team win."
The lack of production contrasts sharply with the Patriots offense under McDaniels, especially in 2007 when they went 16-0, then won two playoff games before losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants 17-14.
In that season, Tom Brady set a single-season league record with 50 touchdown passes for an offense that averaged a league-best 411.2 yards. It also was first in yards passing, 295.7 and points per game, 36.8.
Now, McDaniels is poised to be reunited with Brady and another prolific offense. The Patriots were second in the league in overall yards with 428 per game and yards passing with 317.8. Their average of 32.1 points was third.
Before the Rams' final game, McDaniels reflected on his first year with that team.
"It's a group of individuals that has to become a team and has to work together, has to fit together the right way," he said. "Every time that I've switched venues, I've learned that in a different way. I went from New England to Denver and learned that once, and then from Denver here and learned it again.
"I think it's about how people interact and people mesh together and you have to continue to work in this business to make sure that you have the right group of guys together."
Maybe, back in New England again, he'll be with that "right" group.