The Josh McDaniels story after he left the Indianapolis Colts high and dry is an interesting one.
Logically, you’d think his only remaining chance to be an NFL head coach would be with the New England Patriots, the team that he came back to after leaving the Colts at the alter. At least, it might take a while before that story cools and McDaniels becomes a hot candidate again.
But McDaniels said he has been promised nothing from the Patriots, as far as being Bill Belichick’s successor. If we believe that — it has been reported often this offseason that McDaniels wasn’t assured to be the Pats’ next head coach — then McDaniels is in quite an odd spot.
McDaniels still wants to be a head coach
To be clear, McDaniels agreeing to the Colts job and then backing out doesn’t mean he won’t get another look. Doug Marrone used a clause in his Buffalo Bills contract to dump them while getting $4 million on his way out, and we’ve all forgotten that happened. Now Marrone is the coach of a hot Jacksonville Jaguars team. It did take three years for Marrone to get another head-coaching job, and he got a bit lucky to get an interim look after the Jaguars fired Gus Bradley during the 2016 season. But he wasn’t toxic for long.
So McDaniels could get hired by another team down the road. And he wants to be a head coach again.
“I’ll say this: I’ve stated again and again that I definitely want to be a head coach again,” McDaniels said, according to the Boston Globe. “At the same time, I love being here. This is where my kids were born and raised. We’ve made a pretty special life here, and that’s not an easy thing to leave.”
McDaniels has been picky before, and the Colts episode won’t help his options. Neither will the memories of the debacle that happened when he was Denver Broncos head coach. Because of the Broncos fiasco, the Colts issue seems like strike two.
McDaniels says he’s not Patriots coach-in-waiting
We have to keep in mind, with the multiple reports that McDaniels hasn’t been promised the Patriots’ coaching job whenever Belichick is done, that the Patriots are the most secretive team in the league. If any team is able to keep this all a secret, it’s the Patriots. Also, Belichick felt burned once by a formal coach-in-waiting offer when he was with Bill Parcells as New York Jets assistant. That led to Belichick infamously resigning a day after he was named Jets coach. Maybe he didn’t want to put McDaniels in the same spot.
However, if you wish to be a big cynical and bet heavily that McDaniels will become the Patriots’ next head coach whenever Belichick retires, that’s fine. But once again McDaniels said there’s no agreement in place. When asked if there was an arrangement, McDaniels said “Nope, nope.”
“Whatever happens in the future is going to happen,” McDaniels said, according to the Globe. “I just know that I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be the offensive coordinator here, coach quarterbacks, work with the offense, and work for the people that I work for.”
Despite a lot of hysteria from the outside world the past few months, it doesn’t seem like Belichick is going anywhere. His most distinct strategy in the 2018 draft was making trades to accumulate 2019 picks, which doesn’t seem like something anyone would do if they were leaving soon.
McDaniels is just 42 years old. He has time to wait. Even if it’s waiting until the Colts controversy blows over and someone else wants to take a shot on him.
What’s next for McDaniels and the Patriots?
The Patriots had significant personnel attrition this offseason. They almost lost both coordinators too, but while Matt Patricia bolted to take the Detroit Lions job (he has been in the news lately), McDaniels shockingly came back. That’s perhaps the biggest win the Patriots had this offseason. Whatever has and will be said about McDaniels, he is perhaps the NFL’s best offensive coordinator.
McDaniels has said he and his family are happy in that area of the country, he’s presumably pretty well compensated by Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and he’s still younger than many NFL head coaches. Given all of that, there’s no reason for him to be hasty in leaving. The Patriots will be a Super Bowl contender again, McDaniels will be a big part of that and again, it would surprise absolutely nobody if he ends up being the Patriots’ next head coach.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if other teams decide to give McDaniels a look for their head-coaching vacancies in the next offseason or two.
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