New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Less than a week after the Patriots said they planned to interview coaches for their open offensive coordinator position, we’re now learning who they will be speaking to.

Wednesday morning, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Patriots have requested to interview Minnesota Vikings wide receiver coach Keenan McCardell for the offensive coordinator position. That was followed by a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that current tight ends coach Nick Caley will also interview for the job.


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  • McCardell is a relatively new name to this conversation. He is viewed as a valued assistant in Minnesota, where he was one of just a few coaches kept on last offseason amid the coaching change from Mike Zimmer to Kevin O’Connell. McCardell has spent the last two seasons as Minnesota’s wide receivers coach, working with Justin Jefferson.

    Prior to his time in Minnesota, McCardell has been a wide receivers coach in Jacksonville and Washington, where he had his first coaching job in 2010. In between those stops he spent two years at the University of Maryland, also as a receivers coach, where he worked with Stefon Diggs during Diggs’ final college season.

    Prior to getting into coaching, McCardell spent 16 years as an NFL wide receiver from 1991-2007. He was drafted by Washington in the 12th round in 1991 and the next year signed with the Cleveland Browns, then coached by Bill Belichick. He remained in Cleveland through 1995. He then had stops with the Jaguars, Buccaneers (where he won a Super Bowl), Chargers, and Washington. During that time, he made two Pro Bowls.

  • TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 23:  Keenan McCardell #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs with the ball while Aeneas Williams #35 of the St. Louis Rams tries to tackle him during the game on September 23, 2002 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  The Buccaneers defeated the Rams 26-14.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

    TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 23: Keenan McCardell #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs with the ball while Aeneas Williams #35 of the St. Louis Rams tries to tackle him during the game on September 23, 2002 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Rams 26-14. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • Belichick has raved about McCardell as a player in the past. Prior to a game in 2005 when Belichick’s Patriots were set to play McCardell’s Chargers, Belichick told reporters, “‘I have so much respect for Keenan and I’m really proud to have coached him,” Belichick said via Boston.com. ”I’m not saying that I developed his career or anything, I don’t mean it that way, but I mean just what he brought as a player, his work ethic, his attitude…He’s really a special guy.”

    ”He really understands route techniques and has a very good understanding of the passing game and has great hands. So, wherever you throw the ball to, Keenan, he’s going to catch it. It could be behind him, low, high, it doesn’t really matter,” Belichick continued. ”He has one of those bodies that can twist and turn pretty fluidly. So he makes a lot of those catches look pretty easy, even though a lot of guys wouldn’t be able to make them because they’d just be too stiff to get around.”

    Stylistically, McCardell seems like a logical fit to maximize the Patriots’ offensive personnel. The West Coast scheme currently run in Minnesota is one that would fit the majority of the Patriots’ players’ play styles, including quarterback Mac Jones.

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 14: Wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during a preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on August 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated Vikings the 26-20. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 14: Wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during a preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on August 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated Vikings the 26-20. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • As for Caley, he has been with the Patriots since 2015, when he was hired after 10 years in the college ranks. He began his tenure as an offensive assistant, before being promoted to his current role of tight ends coach in 2017.

    Caley is reportedly thought highly of inside the building, and was viewed as a candidate last year to take over the OC role from Josh McDaniels. The play-calling job ended up going to Matt Patricia, but without the title.

    There is expected to be competition for Caley’s services. Earlier this week, he interviewed with the New York Jets for their open offensive coordinator job.

    Rapoport also mentioned in his report that Bill O’Brien is “included” on the “growing list of candidates” that the Patriots are believed to be targeting for the job. However, he didn’t confirm whether or not O’Brien has interviewed or plans to interview with the team. Earlier this week, NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran reported that O’Brien is “the primary target” of the search.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.

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