By Mark Knudson @MarkKnudson41 Special to WoodyPaige.com
It looks really bad right now. McDaniels stiffed the Indianapolis Colts, and did so in a very unprofessional manner. After agreeing to accept the Colts vacant head coaching gig, actually starting to assemble a coaching staff and allowing the team to schedule an introductory news conference, McDaniels changed his mind at the last minute. Went back on his word. Left more than one person standing at the altar with proverbial egg on their faces. It couldn’t really have looked worse.
But it was the right decision for absolutely everyone involved, including the folks in Indy. Considered a “rebooted” up and coming head coach candidate, McDaniels and those closest to him realized he’s not ready – still.
McDaniels first stint as an NFL Head Coach was a disaster. When the Denver Broncos fired Mike Shanahan after the 2008 season, they (mistakenly) hired the 33-year old McDaniels to replace the legend. The youngster wasn’t close to being up to the task. He acted immaturely, treated players poorly, and the team fell apart after a quick start. After dealing with his own mini-version of ‘Spygate’ in 2010, he was let go. McDaniels went 11-17 in less than two full seasons with the Broncos.
Prior to coming to Denver, McDaniels had spent seven years with the New England Patriots in various coaching positions, most notably as the team’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator during their heyday. He was seen as one of the game’s best young offensive minds after the Pats record breaking 2007 season. The Broncos weren’t the only team impressed.
Then, after his head coaching career hit a wall, McDaniels eventually found his way back to the bosom of the Patriots, with owner Bob Kraft and Head Coach Bill Belichick welcoming him “home” and eventually making him the offensive coordinator once again. As a member of the Patriots coaching staff, McDaniels has five Super Bowl rings. The Pats fell just short of another title this season.
Now 42-years-old, McDaniels is still clearly not ready to leave the womb. Kudos to him for realizing it and not making the same mistake he made in taking the Broncos job. And kudos to others who have noticed that of the seven former Belichick assistant coaches who’ve become NFL head men, only one, Al Groh in 2000, has posted a winning (9-7) record, ever. Not exactly a confidence builder for someone who wants to move up.
Far better for Josh to stay put.
McDaniels agent, Bob LaMonte severed their ties after the Indy incident, feeling like his client hoodwinked him, too. LaMonte will be better off for it.
The Colts GM Chris Ballard (also rep’d by LaMonte) has been saved the embarrassment of having his first head coaching hire go awry. He comes out of this looking pretty good. Quarterback Andrew Luck, trying to come back after missing last season with a shoulder injury, has been saved the frustration of having to deal with McDaniels on a daily basis months before getting back on the field. Ballard says that the assistant coaches who left other jobs thinking they’d be working for McDaniels in Indy are going to get to keep their jobs with the Colts if they want them, so they are just fine, too.
And now the Colts can hire someone who’s actually ready and eager to take on the head coaching job.
For his part, McDaniels is unlikely to have any other NFL teams reaching out to him regarding future head coach openings. He blew up his bridges. Yet he undoubtedly got a $weetened deal to stay in New England, he gets to keep his wife and four kids in their current home with a good deal more job security. The Patriots are said to be open to further mentoring of McDaniels as a future head coach. By remaining the Pats OC, he’ll have more (and better) chances to win another Super Bowl ring…and very likely it will be McDaniels who will get first crack at the Pats head coaching gig when Belichick goes rumbling and mumbling off into the sunset, whenever that may be. Also – and this is no small detail – McDaniels doesn’t have to worry about getting fired from a second head coaching gig and effectively killing his head coaching career before he turns 50.
See? Everybody involved in the Indy incident actually wins. As the old movie line goes, “A man has got to know his limitations.” Thankfully Josh McDaniels realized at the 11th hour that he isn’t ready to leave home yet.