NFL: New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
USA Today

The Philadelphia Eagles appear to be closing in on their next head coach, a candidate very few saw coming when the head coaching interview process began a week ago. Philadelphia has made New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels a prime candidate to be their next head coach after the two sides had a lengthy meeting Sunday that lasted nearly the entire day, per reports from ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark

McDaniels has been the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Patriots for the past nine seasons, having a top-five offense in points per game for seven consecutive seasons -- the majority of which Tom Brady was the quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo was quarterback for four games when Brady served a four-game suspension). New England had a top-10 offense in yards per game in six of those nine seasons, but finished just 27th in points and yards per game in 2020 -- the first year post-Brady. 

The 44-year-old McDaniels served as a head coach in the NFL before, for two seasons with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and 2010 -- going 11-17 before being fired in Week 13 of his second season. During his tenure with Denver, the Broncos were under investigation from the NFL after allegedly videotaping a walkthrough practice in London, England prior to the team's game against the San Francisco 49ers. McDaniels did not immediately report the incident, as he and the Broncos were fined $50,000 each. Steve Scarnecchia, the team's director of video operations, was fired -- and McDaniels was fired a week later, but the Broncos claimed McDaniels wasn't "fired for cause." 

McDaniels served two stints as the Patriots offensive coordinator, the first from 2006 to 2008 when New England was first in points per game (28.8) and second in the NFL in total yards per game (370.8). This was with Matt Cassel starting 15 games in 2008. In McDaniels' second stint, the Patriots were second in the past nine seasons in points per game (27.9) and yards per game (378.6). New England was also sixth in average yards per play during that stretch at 5.61. 

The Eagles interviewed Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo for their head coaching vacancy last week, but could Mayo be in place to be the defensive coordinator if McDaniels is hired as head coach? Mayo has been an assistant coach for two years, but has already established himself as one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks. The 34-year-old Mayo has played an integral role in the Patriots defense allowing the fewest points per game in the NFL over the past two seasons (18.1). Opposing quarterbacks had a 75.5 passer rating against the Patriots defense over the past two seasons, which is the lowest in the league. The 35 pass touchdowns allowed over the past two years is also the fewest in the NFL. The 58 takeaways are the second most in the league.

A McDaniels-Mayo combination would be outside the box for the Eagles, but could be just what the franchise needs at this time.