Josh McDaniels interviewed Wednesday night with the Indianapolis Colts and the session, I’m told, went “very well.”
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Now in his second stint as Patriots offensive coordinator, McDaniels has passed on head coaching opportunities repeatedly since returning to New England during the 2011 playoffs. That probably won’t happen this time around.
McDaniels will go from the Colts to Friday interviews with the Bears and Giants.
In his season-and-a-half as Broncos head coach in 2009-10 to a season spent in St. Louis with the Rams before Steve Spagnuolo was fired, McDaniels got a look at mercurial nature of NFL coaching life.
Perception, reality, missteps, power struggles, wins, losses, personality conflicts, misunderstandings – have enough of any one of those and you are packing up the family and heading elsewhere.
McDaniels has enjoyed stability and success since returning. He’s coached in three Super Bowls, been the winning OC in two, helped shepherd Tom Brady into his 40s and helped raise Jimmy Garoppolo.
That stability isn’t assured going forward.
With Garoppolo gone, the Patriots run of excellence has an expiration date: when Tom Brady retires (or is traded, cut...who knows?...). Meanwhile, there’s no post-Belichick succession plan in place.
With the Patriots likely headed to their third Super Bowl appearance in four seasons, there’s virtually no way McDaniels can further raise his value.
For skeptics who’d explain away the Patriots success by crediting Brady or the system of Belichick, the way Garoppolo played in San Francisco has to reflect back on McDaniels at least a little, doesn’t it?
McDaniels, who has a wife and four kids, made it clear in an excellent piece with Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report that stability is primary. A better relationship management than he showed in Denver will lead to that stability.
Pompei’s piece was written early in the 2016 season and Pompei was granted a ton of access by McDaniels – presumably with Belichick and the Patriots’ blessing. The story reintroduced the NFL to McDaniels and highlighted his strengths. It had a “back on the market...” feel to it.
As it turned out, McDaniels didn’t take any of the jobs offered last offseason including the one in San Francisco which – given what was gifted to the Niners by the Pats – has to sting a little.
If McDaniels knew then what he knows now about Garoppolo being shipped at the trade deadline to the Niners, then maybe he would have gone.
But the Patriots didn’t know that’s what they were going to do with Garoppolo when McDaniels was turning down San Fran last January. From what I’ve gathered, the Patriots didn’t know what they were going to do with Garoppolo, period.
The three teams meeting with McDaniels have unique quarterback situations. The Giants have an aging-but-still-valuable Eli Manning, who could have a renaissance under McDaniels (or be a disaster). The Bears have Mitch Trubisky, the second overall pick in April, who could mature as Jared Goff and Carson Wentz did in 2017 (or suck). The Colts have Andrew Luck, who will either return to being Andrew Luck or have a shoulder like hamburger and be just a guy.
If the job is about relationships this time around, Luck probably affords the best chance for mutual success. McDaniels is an offensive Ph.D. Luck ought to be. Trubisky is a relative neophyte. And Manning’s almost done.
Further, if it’s about relationships, the relationship between GM and coach has to be outstanding. McDaniels knows and likes Colts GM Chris Ballard. And Ballard acquired the Patriots “other” backup quarterback – Jacoby Brissett - at the end of training camp and spent time debriefing Brissett on what McDaniels was like.
Colts owner Jim Irsay is a wild card, but Ballard’s been impressive in his approach and brings a professional feel to a team that got weird in the past few years. One more thing – McDaniels spent a lot of time speaking with Tony Dungy (see the Pompei story) and Dungy seems like he’d advocate to Irsay and Ballard on McDaniels’ behalf. His voice carries weight there.
In Chicago, the GM is Ryan Pace. He’s got a four-year deal but he’s already trying to dig out after hiring John Fox and – in this excellent post – it’s explained that there are multiple hands in the stew for the Bears.
Can’t have it. Although arguing on the relationship front is the presence of Ben McDaniels, Josh’s younger brother, who was hired as an offensive assistant last January.
To me, the Giants are a mess. From a toxic locker room with a diva receiver and malcontent defensive players to a string-pulling owner who helped butcher the Manning benching then pretended he had nothing to do with it. Beyond that, newly-hired GM Dave Gettleman – a true no BS guy – is going to have strong ideas about how he wants things to be. A first-time head coach might suit him better than McDaniels. And vice versa.
Bottom line is McDaniels will have options. It would be a surprise if he doesn’t choose one.