BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — This is the last time they’ll be together.
After the Super Bowl, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are expected to become head coaches with other teams.
Patricia, who like McDaniels was a candidate for the Giants’ job that went to Pat Shurmur, has been linked with the Detroit Lions. McDaniels is expected to take over as coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
Both assistant coaches expressed respect for each other this week as the Patriots prepared for Sunday’s Super Bowl LII against the Eagles.
“We’ve been here together for a long time and it’s been a privilege to work with him,” McDaniels said of Patricia. “We’ve coached against each other in the same building competing in training camp [and] competing in OTAs. He’s helped me get better as a coach. Maybe in some ways I may have helped him, but this is a job that both of us take very seriously.”
Patricia, 43, got his first pro job thanks to McDaniels, who recommended him for a Patriots offensive assistant job in 2004. The two became fast friends as they moved up the coaching ranks.
“Josh and I have known each other for a very long time,” Patricia said. “He moved to the offensive side of the ball when I came on board from the defensive side of the ball and worked with him in extremely close quarters for a lot of years, and Josh is great.”
McDaniels, 41, was fired after going 3-9 as the Broncos’ head coach in 2010, bringing his two-year record to 11-17. He has said he learned from the Denver experience but will continue to be a fiery coach.
Patricia and McDaniels follow a line of assistants under Bill Belichick who have had a mixed bag of success as NFL head coaches, including Eric Mangini and Bill O’Brien.
“Matt’s a tremendous coach,” McDaniels said. “I wouldn’t want to go into Sunday with anybody else running the defense than Matt Patricia.”
Possible replacements for McDaniels and Patricia already are on the staff. Running backs coach Brian Flores, a Bronx native, is expected to replace McDaniels. Linebackers coach Chad O’Shea could take over for Patricia.
“I block it out by blocking it out,” Flores said of a potential promotion. “I think it’s natural to think about those things, but I slap myself and let’s live in the moment. We got the biggest game of the year coming up and that’s what’s important right now. That’s what I do; I slap myself and let’s get focused on the Philly game.”
Notes & quotes: According to a pool report, every Patriots player was a full participant in Friday’s practice, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was cleared from the concussion protocol Thursday . . . Quarterback Tom Brady continued to practice with black tape on his right hand to protect a cut on his thumb. “I think they’ve been focused, no question,” Belichick said Friday. “There are things that are different about this game, but we’ve managed those and we’ve tried to focus on what we need to do and I think the attention level has been good.”