As the regular season drew to a close, conventional wisdom held that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be near the top of the list for teams seeking a new head coach.
But with one-quarter of the league's jobs open, McDaniels has reportedly been contacted by just two teams -- the Packers and Bengals so far. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is also said to be "high" on McDaniels after having interviewed him twice in the past.
By rule, McDaniels can interview this week with the Patriots on their bye. He cannot meet with teams after this week until the Patriots are eliminated or during the bye week prior to the Super Bowl if the Patriots make it that far.
So what gives? Why the tepid outreach?
Pro Football Talk poobah Mike Florio joined me on Tuesday's Quick Slants to discuss the NFL coaching landscape and, if his perspective is a guide, maybe last season's "I'm in, I'm out . . . " routine with the Colts has cost McDaniels.
"I’m astounded that a guy who left the Colts at the altar -- and I don’t have a problem when somebody sticks it to a billion-dollar organization because they stick it to people all the time -- but when you tell people that you’re taking the job and they uproot their lives under the assumption, under the promise that you are going to be there and then you pull the plug on that and you don’t show up? I don’t know how he’s gonna land a staff."
Florio was alluding to assistant coaches Matt Eberflus, Mike Phair and Dave DeGuglielmo, who were all committed to coach for the Colts under McDaniels. When McDaniels pulled out of the Indy job two days after the Super Bowl and a day before he was to be announced in Indy, the Colts decided they would honor all three contracts. DeGuglielmo (who was the Patriots' offensive line coach in 2014 and '15), Eberflus and Phair all stayed.
Florio raises a legitimate point. Prospective head coaches can't just show up for an interview and shrug when asked who their offensive and defensive coordinators will be. They need to have done advance work to both find out who will be good lieutenants, both philosophically and in terms of personality.
Those would-be assistants are putting faith in the candidate. McDaniels is going to have to quell concerns among prospective assistants that that won't happen again.
Another reason for the slow response could be the presumption McDaniels is in line for the Patriots head coaching position and is going to bide his time at a hefty financial rate until Bill Belichick steps aside. The only issues there are that McDaniels has not been assured he's the next head coach of the Patriots and Belichick really isn't showing signs he's about to shove off.
Of all the opportunities out there, the Bengals is by far the least appetizing. They are a notoriously cheap franchise that lags behind most of the league in facilities, scouting and player amenities. They also aren't talented. Green Bay has an aging, future Hall of Fame quarterback in place who's coming off a dysfunctional run with former head coach Mike McCarthy. Buyer beware is good advice for anyone considering that job. That also could be the advice right now on McDaniels.
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