Curran: McDaniels should be choosy about his next job

Curran: McDaniels should be choosy about his next job

Three NFL head-coaching vacancies have emerged. More will pop up in the next week.

The most important factor Patriots coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia – both presumed to be in line for interviews – have to weigh is what level of dysfunction the people doing the interview have wrought on their franchise.

Climate, salary, roster, fanbase, school system, tradition – none of it matters if the owner and GM doing the hiring are a bad match followed closely by who the quarterback is.

The guys sitting across the desk or the dinner table, smiling and giving a candidate the floor to speak freely are fresh off their own screw ups. Jeff Fisher, Gus Bradley and Rex Ryan all may have had it coming to them in LA, Jacksonville and Buffalo, but Stan Kroenke, Shad Khan and Terry Pegula – the owners of each of those franchises – have to share blame. As do the personnel men in each city, Les Snead, Dave Caldwell and Doug Whaley.

So, while they sit in judgment of the candidates, the candidates better be making their judgments as well.

I asked Adam Gase on Wednesday about his interview process before taking the Dolphins job last offseason. He said that being a seasoned and discerning candidate led to his comfortable situation in Miami where he’s got the Dolphins at 10-5.

“Going through the 2014, after the 2014 season, and having the ability to interview with five teams, it was probably really good that I did not get [a job], and I was able to learn from those experiences through the interview process,” he explained. “Then, coming into this last year when I went through the interview process, I had a better feel of the questions that they were going to ask me. But at the same time, I had more questions I was ready to ask.

“Really, at the end of the day, I was just going off of how I felt with the guys that I was talking to,” Gase added. “That’s why this place felt right to me. I felt good when I interviewed and I felt good about the people I was talking with and interviewing with. I felt like it was a good group for me to work with.”

Gase made the right call. Working for owner Stephen Ross and with both experienced personnel man Mike Tannenbaum and newly elevated Chris Grier it’s worked out well. Say what you want about Tannanbaum’s track record but he’s got two things going for him – he’s seen a lot since coming up with the Jets in the mid-90s and he’s an easy guy to get along with. Grier as well. Miami also had the second-most stable quarterback situation of all the teams that had opening last offseason (Giants, Dophins, Bucs, Titans, Eagles, Niners, Browns). 

And that’s something that muddies the waters with each opening. In LA, whoever gets hired better damn sure feel comfortable having Jared Goff dictate the future of his family.

Goff was the No. 1 overall pick in 2016. He’s going to get about three years to prove himself which – in the impatient NFL – is about the life expectancy for a sub-.500 coach. If you’re McDaniels, do you feel comfortable that you can make something of him? If you can’t, how much chaos will you cause if you try to push Goff aside and bring in someone else because that’s a rebuke of the still-in-place personnel people.

And that’s what happened, apparently, in Buffalo. Rex Ryan and GM Doug Whaley got sideways early but as the season wore on, the quarterback position became a reported flashpoint. The front office soured on Tyrod Taylor and wanted to see rookie Cardale Jones get at least a little activity. Rex wasn’t having it. Taylor will be out after the season but the new head coach coming in – whether that be interim head coach Anthony Lynn being elevated or someone from outside – has to determine whether he wants to be saddled with the development of Cardale Jones in addition to getting the rest of the team developed.

Meanwhile, Whaley’s been a phantom when it comes to facing the music as to what’s gone wrong in Buffalo which is an awful look for any prospective head coach. It’s a tacit announcement that the team is operating behind a veil and the guy who’ll take the arrows from the media is the one who’s coaching the team not the one assembling it.

The best gig out there is probably Jacksonville. The owner, Shad Khan, and GM, Dave Caldwell, are saying all the right things about the new head coach having latitude. Anyone watching football has seen enough Blake Bortles to understand he’s an inaccurate, boom-or-bust quarterback with the fundamentals of an Iron Mike pitching machine. That means the new guy can use Bortles as a stop-gap until a successor is unearthed (and this is a baaaadddd draft for quarterbacks).

The downside to the Jags is it’s got a losing culture and the new head coach is going to have to go hard-ass early and understand that Khan is an owner that wants to grow revenue streams in Europe and by being innovative. So there will be marketing hoops to jump through, hands to shake and sponsors to pose with that may not exist in every market.

McDaniels is probably the hottest head coaching prospect on the market. It’s been six years since he was fired in Denver and he is more than ready to combine what he learned then, what he’s learned back with the Patriots and the life experience that comes from being on the planet to take another job. 
Expect him to be very discerning for two big reasons.

First, working for the Patriots and with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick means he’s already got one of the top jobs in football. He may not draw a head coach’s salary, but he’s in a better spot than a lot of current head coaches. Second, guys don’t get a lot of third chances. Denver didn’t go well. If McDaniels encounters the same kind of friction with key players and the media that he did in Denver and fails to win as well, his marketability will suffer. Why jump for the sake of jumping? McDaniels will be just as attractive a candidate in December 2017 after another 12-to-14-win season for the Patriots as he is now.  

Gase – a longtime friend of McDaniels - indicated that Gase’s approach in going to Miami will probably be just like McDaniels’ approach will be this offseason.

“Something that I learned being with Josh in those years in Denver (Gase was hired as wide receivers coach by McDaniels) where our discussions all the time were just kind of positive, as far as if you ever get a situation where I had this opportunity, it was about, ‘How do you fit in that organization and how do you work with other people in that organization?'"

Keep that in mind over the next month or so as McDaniels’ name is linked to every opening. How charred is the landscape he’ll be walking into and will anything grow once that land is tilled?

Patriots stay busy, reportedly sign Patrick Chung to extension

Patriots stay busy, reportedly sign Patrick Chung to extension

The Patriots have been busy in the last 48 hours. They made a trade to bring in a second McCourty. They signed a defensive end, a running back and an offensive lineman. And now they're extending one of their own. 

According to NFL Media, the Patriots are signing safety Patrick Chung to a short-term contract extension. Chung was headed into the final year of his contract and was set to earn $2 million in base salary. It's the third extension Chung has signed with New England in a little more than three years. 

Chung, who turns 31 in August, is arguably Bill Belichick's most versatile defender. He is able to play a traditional strong safety role, covering tight ends and backs and playing in run support. He's also been used at the "star" spot to take on opposing slot receivers, and he'll occasionally rush the passer. He's also still a key contributor in the kicking game. 

"The guy is a really good football player," Belichick said of Chung earlier in January. "He’s one of the best players in the league, one of the best players on our team. He does a lot of things very well and has done them that way for a long time. We’re lucky we have him. He’s an outstanding player in all the things that he does. We put a lot on him, and he always comes through."

Chung's second go-round with the Patriots has breathed new life into his career. 

Drafted in the second round in 2009 - with a pick the Patriots picked up by trading Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs - Chung was used in more of a traditional deep safety role. That gig didn't exactly maximize his skill set, and in 2013 he signed with the Eagles to play under his college coach at Oregon, Chip Kelly. 

The Eagles released Chung after one season, and the Patriots re-signed him with a different role in mind. A strong tackler who wasn't afraid to mix it up at the linebacker level, Chung started to be deployed more often in the box. He readily admitted, he welcomed the change to be a little closer to the action. 

In 2015, Chung signed an extension to tack on three years to what was initially a one-year contract. In 2016, he signed another one-year extension. 

"We took the guy in the second round," Belichick said last season. "But it just - for a combination of reasons, I'd say a big part of it [being] mistakes that I personally made - it didn’t work out the way that we hoped it would. But we got it right the second time. I think we've been able to utilize him. I wish we had been able to do that when we initially got him, but it didn’t work out that way. Like I said, I think we finally got it right."


Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots running back Danny Woodhead has announced his retirement after 10 years in the NFL.

The 33-year-old took to Instagram to make it official.

10 years! Wow, God had crazy plans for a small little kid from North Platte, NE! It’s been a wild ride and feel so blessed He allowed me to do what I loved for so long. But now it’s time to say goodbye to the game I love. First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Him my career wouldn’t have been possible. He blessed me with the gifts and He paved the way. All I had to do was follow His plans for my life, and His plans were crazy awesome! Next, I want to thank my wife who has been by my side since freshman year of high school. She has been a rock through all the ups and downs. Sis, Willy, Mae Mae, and Hopie your daddy is going to be home a ton more and I can’t wait! Thanks to my Dad and Mom for always supporting me and showing me that God is first, then everything else will fall into place. Ben, Joel, and Anna thanks for preparing me for the NFL in our backyard games growing up. The dreaded in-laws Steve and Suzie for always being there for me. Chris Gittings (agent) you’re the best and thankful your my brother/uncle! Thank you Jets, Patriots, Chargers, and Ravens! Thanks to all my head coaches (Bob Zohner, Brad Smith, Bill O’Boyle, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick, Mike McCoy, and John Harbaugh) who believed in me! To my rbs coaches (coach skiles, coach reiners, Jimmy Raye, A Lynn, Ivan, Ollie, Ridge, and Thomas) thanks for putting up with me. Thanks to all my teammates from high school till now. Without you guys I never would’ve become who I was as a player. To all my olinemen, you guys deserve the credit for anything that I received credit for. I thank you for helping make my career. To all the trainers, team docs, strength coaches, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, body gurus thanks for making sure I was on the field. To all the people who made my life easier at the facility (ops, pr, equipment staff, cafe workers, custodians) thanks and your work doesn’t go unnoticed. And how could i forget all my fans?! You’re the best and have always felt the love and support! I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few but know that I’m thankful for everything everyone has done on my journey.

A post shared by Danny Woodhead (@teamwoody39) on

Thursday, it was reported the Patriots reached out to Woodhead for a possible reunion. 

The last two seasons have been challenging for him, as he dealt with season-ending injuries in both 2016 with the Chargers and 2017 with the Ravens.

Woodhead finishes his career with 2,238 yards rushing, 2,698 yards receiving, 15 rushing touchdowns and 17 receiving touchdowns.