Before the clock struck 3 this Thursday afternoon, New England’s locker room was mostly clear of players. After practicing the past two days, the Patriots are now officially on their bye week. As they headed for the exits most players said they planned on getting as much rest as possible over the next three days and watching the four playoff games that will take place over Wild Card Weekend.
Most of the Patriots’ coaching staff will likely enjoy the weekend off as well, although for a couple of assistants, this could be a busy next few days.
For teams like the Patriots who enjoy a bye during the Wild Card round, their assistants can be requested for interviews by other clubs to fill vacant head coaching jobs. Earlier this week, according to multiple media reports, a number of teams requested permission to speak formally with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and linebacker coach/defensive play caller Brian Flores.
The Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals made overtures to McDaniels, but he apparently was only interested in speaking with Green Bay. Media reports suggest he has turned down Cincinnati’s request and is scheduled to meet with the Packers on Friday.
Flores is also said to have an interview slated with Green Bay here in Foxborough on Friday, plus another sit-down with the Miami Dolphins tomorrow morning. In addition, the 37-year-old Flores has received interest from Denver and Cleveland, although at this point, he is reportedly only scheduled to talk with the Broncos, a meeting originally set to take place on Monday, which reportedly will now take place on Saturday.
McDaniels is no stranger to this annual interview carousel. The 42-year-old has interviewed with several teams the past few postseasons, and even went so far as to accept the Indianapolis job last February before having a last-second change of heart to remain in Foxborough.
He has also been linked this year with the vacancy in Cleveland, although the Browns did not officially ask to speak with him this past week. During an interview on Boston radio station WEEI, an ESPN reporter appeared to downplay the McDaniels-Browns connection.
Yet, according to a report from McDaniels’ hometown newspaper in Canton, Ohio, just an hour south of Cleveland, “McDaniels is enthusiastically interested in the Cleveland opening. The Browns have used back channels to indicate a mutual preliminary interest, but they have not invited him to an early interview… However, indications are that McDaniels is a very serious candidate.”
Meanwhile, Flores had one interview, with Arizona, last Wild Card Weekend, and the Cardinals just parted ways this week with the man they eventually chose over Flores. At this point, it doesn’t appear that Flores is on their list this time around. However, Flores is getting much more attention from other teams this year after a full season as New England’s de facto defensive coordinator.
Two Patriots assistant coaches generally conduct media conference calls on Tuesdays during the season, normally McDaniels and one other. It will be interesting to hear from McDaniels, who is one of the two assistants scheduled to take part in those conference calls this coming Tuesday. Flores is not, however. Defensive line coach Brendan Daly is the other coach currently scheduled to join McDaniels.