It's only Wednesday, but it's been a long week in New England already. Ever since the Patriots announced - and let's level with one another and admit it was the Krafts who announced it - that the team would start interviewing offensive coordinators, the lack of any news has been tough to deal with. It must be what it's like to be a defendant waiting for a jury verdict. Or a candidate waiting for results on election night. A cleric in St. Peter's Square looking for smoke coming out of the Vatican chimney. You find yourself refreshing your feed constantly, waiting for Dr. Belichick to come out of the delivery room and announce, "It's an offensive coach!"
And it's taking forever. Like how Einstein (the real one, not the Paul Giammati version who's not as smart as The Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With) explained the relativity of time with, "A minute spent touching a hot stove feels like an hour. But a minute spent talking to a pretty girl feels like a minute." The sly dog was right. And this particular stove has been burning Patriots fans' collective hand since long before the failed screen passes, draw plays on 3rd & 18, the blizzard of delay of game flags, or this little gem:
It's the only issue right now. Player personnel doesn't matter. Neither does assessing blame for this past year. Nor do feelings or bruised egos. It's this and only this. Everything else is secondary, and can wait. But there hasn't been a single update. Until now.
That's an interesting and fairly eclectic group, especially considering there's only three names on it. But taking them in the order Rapoport did:
Keenan McCardell - It's rare for Belichick to look outside his organization for coaches or personnel people. But if he's going to, this choice makes some sense. Like Rapoport mentioned, these two have history. McCardell was actually drafted by Washington in 1992 (in the 12th round; let that sink in) and was on the roster for all four of Belichick's seasons before Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore. He lasted 17 seasons in the league, posted five seasons with 1,110-plus yards, made two Pro Bowls, and won a Super Bowl with Tampa in 2002. He's got 10 years of coaching experience and is now the receivers coach in Minnesota, which hasn't hurt Justin Jefferson one bloody bit. So I don't hate the idea of putting him at a white board in a room that includes Tyquan Thornton, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and hopefully Jakobi Meyers. He's generally considered an assistant on the coordinator/head coach career path. It's obligatory to judge whether or not an interview is "in the spirit of the Rooney Rule." Though I don't know how to gauge that, or even define it. I just know that McCardell is a Belichick Guy. So that works for me. Plus, despite all that experience as a player and coach, he's still only 53.
Bill O'Brien - I've only been saying this for about 52 weeks, but what the hell. Another time isn't going to kill me. O'Brien knows the system. He coached it about as well as it has ever been coached, both as Josh McDaniels' successor and predecessor from 2008-11 before he went off to rescue Penn State football from the grave. Just as importantly, he knows Mac Jones from working with him in Alabama. Jones has made it clear he prefers to be coached hard, and O'Brien has a long history of coaching harder than a diamond in an ice storm:
Rapoport is reporting he's their "primary target." He's mine too. Put the target on missile lock and bring him down.
Nick Caley - No surprise here. His name comes up in every report as the up-and-coming member of this staff who some other franchise is going to sweep in and poach if he doesn't get his shot here. Ownership reportedly is super high on Caley's supply. He's been the tight ends coach since he took over the job from Brian Daboll in 2017. And Daboll seems to be doing sort of OK. Though if being the Patriots tight ends coach for the last six seasons is the sum total of your curriculum vitae, you'd better hope nobody pulls out the stat sheet and starts asking for explanations on Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Ben Watson, Ryan Izzo, Dwayne Allen … or really anyone you've coached outside of Hunter Henry and Rob Gronkowski. Neither of whom had their best seasons on your watch. But still, there's more ways to impress people than numbers. Everyone talks about him like he has that indefinable quality you look for in an OC. It just begs the question why Belichick wouldn't have promoted him last year instead. But maybe he just felt needed more time to rise in the proofing oven before putting him in to bake.
Hopefully we'll get an answer soon. I know you're not supposed to rush the process, but I'd very much like to rush the process. Given that it's been obvious since about September that this change was going to be entirely necessary, I don't see the point in dragging it out. As soon as the decision is announced, the assault on the 2023 playoffs begins. Until it's made, nothing else matters.