Over the weekend, New England was hit with its first significant snowstorm this winter. Traveling proved difficult, but the weather didn't stop a few NFL teams from visiting the region to interview Patriots offensive and defensive coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia. Both men are being considered for head coaching vacancies across the league.
According to Sports Illustrated's "The MMQB" website, McDaniels met this past Saturday in Foxborough with Jacksonville Jaguars representatives at 7 a.m., followed by the Los Angeles Rams at noon and San Francisco 49ers at 4 p.m.
Patricia, meanwhile, went to Rhode Island to meet with a four-person contingent from the San Diego Chargers, as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune. Chargers.com also confirmed that San Diego met with Patricia over the weekend. He interviewed with the Rams as well, the Los Angeles Times noted.
The NFL allows for teams with coaching and front office vacancies to speak with coaches and executives from playoff teams that have a bye during Wild Card Weekend, provided that those meetings take place at times and locations convenient to the candidates' current employers. Hence, while the AFC's No. 1-seed Patriots were enjoying the weekend off, McDaniels and Patricia were given the go-ahead to have interviews before Bill Belichick's coaching staff reconvened on Sunday.
During conference calls with the media on Monday, both McDaniels and Patricia acknowledged that they'd gone through the interview process this past weekend. However, they emphasized that while grateful for the opportunities, they remain focused on preparing in earnest for New England's next opponent, the Houston Texans, in the Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium this coming Saturday.
"To me, the fascinating part to all of that," remarked Patricia, who interviewed a year ago at this time with Cleveland, "is just, kind of learning all the different organizations and how they work, because they are so different... It was a great experience to go through.
"Everything right now, for me, is [about] Houston."
"It's humbling and it's a privilege to have an opportunity to do any of those things," echoed McDaniels. "I feel very fortunate to have even an opportunity to sit in front of those people and that they would listen to me and spend time with me. You just try to do the best you can and represent yourself, your team, the organization that you come from, [and] your family as best you can, and all the rest of it will play out how it's supposed to play out."
The 40-year-old McDaniels, in his second stint as Patriots OC, has considerable more experience with the interview process than his 42-year-old colleague. Patricia's meeting with the Browns last January was his first-ever head coaching interview. McDaniels, of course, has been courted by NFL teams numerous times over the years and was hired in 2009 as head coach of the Denver Broncos, where he lasted less than a year-and-a-half in that capacity.
He has made it known publicly this season, however, that he welcomes the chance to become a head coach again somewhere someday, especially after the many lessons he learned while briefly in charge in Denver. As a result, McDaniels was asked how challenging it is for him to balance new opportunities for career advancement against his current responsibilities with the Patriots.
"The profession that we work in requires that of us each week," he responded. "You know, we get ready for one team, we put all our focus, our time, our preparation, our energy into getting ready to do the best we can each week against a certain opponent, and then the very next day – as soon as the game ends, actually – our focus shifts to something different.
"We've been trained to switch gears and tie our focus into the thing that is at hand. If it's a work day, then we know where our focus is going to lie, and absolutely [it's] going to be on the Texans this week. Looking forward to getting ready to go."
McDaniels also made clear Monday that he's thankful for the advice and support he receives from Belichick and the Kraft family, owners of the Patriots, whenever such job interviews present themselves.
"It's not an easy thing for anybody to be involved in," he added, "because you're totally invested in this [Patriots] team and this year and that's where I'm at now. I'm going to do everything I can to work my butt off to help us win on Saturday night, and I'm sure everybody else is going to do the same."
As of Monday afternoon, no NFL teams had announced new coaching hires. Meanwhile, the 49ers also have a general manager opening and reportedly requested permission to speak with Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio about it. However, according to the Boston Herald, the 41-year-old declined to be interviewed for the position. Caserio (pictured) is believed to be under contract with New England through the 2020 season.