Vikings WR Coach Is in the Running to Be Bill Belichick’s Next OC

Following Justin Jefferson’s historic third season in the NFL, it appears that folks around the league have begun taking notice of Minnesota Vikings WR coach Keenan McCardell. On Wednesday morning, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media announced that the New England Patriots have requested permission to interview McCardell for their offensive coordinator position in 2023.

After Josh McDaniels left the Patriots after the 2021 season to take over as the Las Vegas Raiders head coach, New England never truly replaced him at OC. Instead, it was offensive line coach Matt Patricia calling plays for the offense for the first time in his coaching career. It went about as poorly as it sounds as the Patriots ranked among the bottom half of the NFL in points scored, total yards, yards per play, and first downs.

Reaction to Vikings Win over Patriots
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell shake hands after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

New England made the playoffs in 2021 with rookie QB Mac Jones at the helm by going 10-7, but they missed the tournament in 2022 for the second time in three seasons as they went 8-9. It’s the first time since 2000-2002 that the Patriots have missed the playoffs twice in three years. Of course, they sandwiched a pair of poor seasons in 2000 and 2002 with a Super Bowl victory in 2001, so this is the worst three-year stretch of football that New England has seen since the 1990s.

As for McCardell, this coaching opportunity would provide a reunion for him with coach Belichick. Back when the current Vikings WR coach was an actual NFL wide receiver, he got his career started with the Cleveland Browns. After being drafted by Washington in 1991, he missed the entire season on injured reserve and then landed in Cleveland.

During the four years McCardell spent in Cleveland from 1992-95, Belichick was his head coach, and he recorded 80 receptions, 1133 yards, and 8 TDs over the course of 80 games, including 11 starts.

Of course, things are far from final, but if McCardell were to get this job, it would be his first coordinator position during his NFL coaching career. Following a 16-year career as a player, he got his first NFL coaching gig in 2010 in Washington as their WR coach. He also had stops at the University of Maryland (where he coached Stefon Diggs) and the Jacksonville Jaguars before landing in Minnesota with the Vikings in 2021.

Jaguars #12, Dede Westbrook gets instructions from wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell during Tuesday morning’s minicamp session. The Jacksonville Jaguars held their first day of 2019 mandatory minicamp at the practice fields by TIAA Bank Field Tuesday, June 11, 2019. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union] Fl Jax Jagsmandatoryminica 1

It’s also very well worth noting that McCardell was one of the few carryovers from the Mike Zimmer staff to Kevin O’Connell’s last offseason. That should speak volumes of his reputation within the organization and with his players. If he opted to take the job in New England, it would be a huge blow to the Vikings, but a well-earned opportunity for him after so many years of success.

McCardell is, of course, not the only candidate for the position in New England, though. Joining him is New England’s TE coach Nick Caley (who interviewed for the job on Wednesday) as well as Alabama OC Bill O’Brien.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.