In the wake of Josh McDaniels' departure to Las Vegas, there have been a lot of concerns over the makeup of the Patriots coaching staff and how that might affect Mac Jones. Don't count McDaniels among those losing sleep.
Sure, Jones is no longer one of McDaniels' chief concerns now that the erstwhile offensive coordinator is putting together his own team in the desert, but he sounded more than comfortable singing Jones' praises when he met with the media on Wednesday at the Combine.
"Mac's a great kid," McDaniels said. "He works extremely hard. I was really fortunate to have a chance to coach him. The people who touched Mac Jones prior to him coming to New England deserve a tremendous amount of credit. The people who coached him in high school, the people who coached him at Alabama, the parents that raised him, they did a great job with him as a human being."
McDaniels wasn't only prepared to offer praise for Jones off the field. He was also more than willing to comment on his performance and cited his mental acuity as a main reason for his rookie-year success.
"I'm not sure I've been around a more mature young football player in terms of understanding the game and being able to process at such a speed and such a level that Mac was," McDaniels said. "I don't have any doubt that he's going to meet the challenge head on. I wish him nothing but the best and I'll be pulling for him except for when he plays Vegas this year."
As for McDaniels, who raised some eyebrows by taking a Raiders job vacated by the abrupt end to the Jon Gruden era in midseason, he sounded pretty comfortable with his own quarterback as Derek Carr is set to enter the final year of his deal.
"I've met and spoken to Derek a number of times now," McDaniels said. "Just trying to begin our relationship. It's really an important one. The head coach, the play-caller, the quarterback getting to know one another as people. Kind of how we think and how we work. The football part will come later."
He also discussed some of the mechanics of his departure and his decision to add three former members of the Patriots coaching staff to his group in Vegas. McDaniels named wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi his offensive coordinator while promoting Bo Hardegree to quarterbacks coach. Carmen Bricillo also followed McDaniels out west as offensive line coach.
McDaniels said he had discussions with Bill Belichick about adding the coaches and both sides were in agreement. "I have great respect for Bill and that process. I spoke to him directly multiple times about any interest I had in people that were there. I never want to do the wrong thing."
The last time McDaniels appeared ready to make a move, the Patriots convinced him to stay after he was set to become the Colts coach. Were there any last-ditch efforts made this time around?
"This was just an opportunity I felt I couldn't pass up. I've waited a long time to try to have an opportunity to do this," McDaniels said. "What they've done for me, the opportunities they've given me, what they've rewarded me with personally and professionally, there was no need to do anything like that. This was really a decision about what was best for me at this time and the challenge I could take on in Vegas."