It seemed as though Josh McDaniels had been the Colts head coach for weeks. Except for in-writing of course.
As we all know, McDaniels eventually reneged on his verbal agreement with the Colts and is set to return for yet another season as the Patriots offensive coordinator. This move spurred theories that this all but guarantees that McDaniels is the head coach in waiting. Those theories are nothing more than that as not many details have come out regarding McDaniels change of heart.
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However, speaking for the first time since the move, McDaniels did say his conversation with Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft offered “clarity” in regards to his future with the club. A future he was unsure of at one point, which led to him preparing to move on.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure what the future was. I just hadn’t had any clarity on that,’’ McDaniels said via Jim McBride of the Boston Globe. “So, where did I fit in? Were there any plans? I just didn’t have much clarity on what my role was here moving forward. Once I heard from Robert and Bill on that Tuesday, it just gave me reason to pause and consider this whole situation.’’
And consider he did. Eventually, he decided on returning to New England instead of moving on. This is after he had talked with his family and they were getting ready to move from the Northeast to the Midwest.
“My family was ready to go to Indianapolis because at that point that was the decision I had made,” said McDaniels. “So, this isn’t a thing where I’m telling you, ‘I couldn’t move and all that’ — that’s not the case. If that were the case I wouldn’t interview.“
The specifics of the conversation with Mr. Kraft and Belichick were not disclosed to no ones surprise. From what we know, there was no guarantee of McDaniels being the successor. The notion seems unlikely given the fact that most feel Belichick is not close to finished. Belichick recently commented on McDaniels return and echoed a similar message as McDaniels.
“We got back from Minnesota, I had an opportunity to talk to Josh, and we were able to work some things out,” said Belichick via WEEI. “I’m thrilled he’s still with us and is going to continue in his role. I think he’s a top offensive coordinator in the league. He’s done a great job for me for a long time in a lot of different roles. I’m very glad, based on the meeting we had — there were a number of things that happened — that we were able to work that out and keep him with us.”
Fortunately for the Colts and the assistants who were awaiting McDaniels arrival in Indianapolis, they were able to move on. The assistants were able to keep their jobs and the Colts eventually hired Frank Reich, former offensive coordinator of the Eagles.
“It was never my intention to go into this and put anybody in an awkward position or do any harm to anybody or do anything to hurt anybody’s career,” said McDaniels. “That certainly wasn’t a part of my thought process. I just felt like, once I knew the whole picture and I had the opportunity to make a decision, it was tough but I feel like I made the right one.’’
“Chris [Ballard] was tremendous the whole entire time. He’s an incredible human being and he’s great at what he does. He’s going to be successful. It was difficult. I had a friendship with him — I still do . . . He’s a guy that I have a lot of respect for and admiration for. He was a big reason why I was interested in that job in the first place. It was as difficult a decision as I’ve ever made professionally. He handled it extremely well, he was a complete professional about it.’’
After a lackluster first stint as a head coach, this decision by McDaniels has some wondering whether or not this will be his last opportunity for some time. Some have gone as far as saying the 31 other franchises wouldn’t touch him. That seems like a bit of an exaggeration. Especially if Nick Cesaro takes a general manager job in the future.
With that said, McDaniels will enter his 10th season as Patriots offensive coordinator, his seventh in a row. In the past six seasons, McDaniels has led a Patriots offense that has ranked in the top three in points in five of those six seasons. The lone outlier… they ranked fourth in 2014. In his first stint, they ranked in the top 10 all three seasons. That initial run was highlighted by the record-breaking season of 2007. That year, they ranked first in both points and yards by a large margin.
By remaining with the Patriots, McDaniels stock will likely not diminish. If anything, it will grow as the Patriots are still a prime candidate, if not the favorite, to return to the Super Bowl. If they do, it will be the fifth time McDaniels has been an offensive coordinator in a Super Bowl. Plus, it can’t hurt to continue to learn under the greatest football coach ever. And, of course, there is the Tom Brady factor.
“The opportunity to stay here and work for who I think is the greatest owner in sports and the best head football coach in the history of our game, to work with the best quarterback that has ever played . . . Look, I’m privileged to have the opportunity to do that and when they kind of crystallized that it gave me a reason to stop and say, ‘All right, what’s the best decision for me?’ And certainly, it was difficult. But I made the decision on my own, nobody pushed me into it.’’