Josh McDaniels was hired to his first head-coaching job at age 32. The Denver Broncos tried to make him Sean McVay before anyone knew who McVay was.
It was a debacle. The Broncos screwed up badly by giving him full control of the front office right away. He alienated players almost immediately. He alienated everyone else over time as well, and it’s not like he was around long. McDaniels won his first six games that first season, in 2009. He was 5-17 after that and to this day, his name is a curse word in Denver. He was clearly in over his head.
McDaniels rehabilitated his career (after a bad season as St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator, which everyone has forgotten by now) back with the New England Patriots. He became a hot candidate again. And after taking his time to find the right job, he decided to become the Indianapolis Colts’ next head coach. The team made it official on Tuesday.
While McDaniels is just 41 years, this feels like it’s his last chance to make it as a head coach. If he follows up a total failure in Denver by screwing up in Indianapolis, it would be hard to see him getting a third shot. It’s now or never.
McDaniels has proven himself as a play-caller. The Patriots lost in the Super Bowl, but it wasn’t the offense’s fault. Tom Brady threw for 505 yards with McDaniels calling plays. If there’s skepticism of McDaniels it’s that all of his coaching success has come with Bill Belichick, calling plays for Brady. Now he has to prove he can do it without one of the greatest coaches and greatest quarterbacks of all time. He has a good start with Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, assuming Luck is healthy. But McDaniels has to prove he was a big part of Brady’s success, not the other way around.
The Colts, mostly because of Luck, were able to maneuver and land McDaniels after he became a hot commodity again. Now McDaniels has to prove he can do it as a head coach, because this might be his last chance at it.
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