RUEB: With McDaniels Return, Belichick Sets the Stage For His Departure

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Patriots fans have heard about the death of a dynasty for more than a few years, but Tuesday’s late reports that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels ditched the Indianapolis Colts to remain the offensive coordinator for the Patriots is news that should be welcomed. It means the end won’t be painful.

Of course, with the way the last 48 hours went, that could also change quick.

If you watched ESPN’s 30 For 30 “The Two Bills,” there was one simple takeaway – Bill Belichick is still furious about how things played out with him and Parcells.

Belichick never said he wanted to take over for Parcells as Giants’ head coach. But if you saw the ESPN documentary or the NFL Films’ piece on Belichick from a couple years ago, he didn’t need to say it.

Unsure of his future, he left Parcells’ shadow to be the coach in Cleveland; three months later, Parcells quit. It robbed Belichick of his dream job.

Robbed of a Dream

It should have been enough to end that relationship forever, but after being fired by the Browns, Belichick came back to Parcells in New England. He followed him to New York – this time with the Jets. He would be a head coach again, but he wanted it on his terms. Being part of a succession plan appeared to be fine, right up until Parcells lit the plan aflame.

When New England came calling for him prior to the 2000 season, Parcells accelerated his succession plan and quit with Belichick becoming head coach. With the Jets in the middle of an ownership change, Belichick didn’t have what he wanted. He wanted familiarity but, most of all, stability.

And that brings us to today’s news.

Stability?

There’s no doubt Belichick doesn’t want to repeat the end-of-career mistakes Parcells made. Belichick has shown loyalty throughout his tenure – regardless of what the talk radio yahoos want fans to believe . He knows how important Bob Kraft and Patriots were to get him to this point of his career.

That in-house fighting so bravely reported by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham? Belichick wasn’t worried about it, because he wasn’t going to let a petty fight ruin his reputation like Parcells did.

If Belichick retires in the next week, it wouldn’t be shocking. (Let me check Twitter real fast to make sure it hasn’t already happened … aaand we’re good).

But I don’t feel like that’s the plan.

Belichick cares about history. Maybe Sunday’s loss to the Eagles made him realize he’s going to need to cement his place when a certain Thomas J. Brady decides to hang it up.

Does he want to be the head coach who went out on a good note? Or does he want to be the guy who bailed and had the organization turn to garbage like his mentor, Bill Parcells. Parcells’s former teams struggled for years after his sudden departures.

Legacy Matters

The wooing of McDaniels has probably gone on for a while, but the Patriots couldn’t give him what he really wanted – a guaranteed start date as Head Coach of the Patriots. It’s probably safe to say that Monday or Tuesday Belichick sat down with Kraft and, with Rob Gronkowski rumors floating around and Tom Brady on the 16th hole of his career, told the owner he’s coaching X amount of years. Let’s make sure we know who the next guy is going to be.

When that is going to be is the big question. The details of Belichick’s contract have never been confirmed; 98.5’s Tony Massarotti said it ran thru 2018 earlier this season and Mike Reiss, a reporter from ESPN, tweeted the same.

Now if that’s the case, it appears Belichick has set the stage for the end of his career. He’s in control of how he’s going out and providing McDaniels with the opportunity that Belichick always wanted – organizational continuity.

Belichick coaches 2018 and tries to win one last title – drafting a future franchise QB for McDaniels to groom – then hands over a still-loaded team to McDaniels in 2019.

McDaniels, with Brady, Gronk and Julian Edelman in for one last hurrah, has a chance to win a championship in his inaugural year while building for the future. Building his own team, his own legacy. A seamless pass from the legendary coach who wants his legacy to continue even after he’s done.

It’s not easy to hear, but for Patriots fans this is good news.

Because the only bad from this McDaniels move is the end is closer than we all thought.

Eric Rueb
Eric Rueb is a freelance journalist. For more from Rueb on sports, entertainment and him living the #DadLife, follow him on Twitter at @EricRueb. Send him email at ericrueb@yahoo.com.
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