In the days before the Super Bowl, there were rumors that Josh McDaniels to the Indianapolis Colts didn’t seem like a sure thing. Maybe he was having cold feet.
In the end McDaniels did have cold feet and decided to not take the Colts job … after he apparently accepted it.
In one of the wildest stories of this or any other NFL offseason, McDaniels pulled out of the Colts job on Tuesday, hours after the team had announced he agreed to terms to be their head coach. McDaniels is headed back to the New England Patriots as their offensive coordinator, and presumably to have the chance to be the heir apparent to Bill Belichick. The story was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Schefter said Patriots owner Robert Kraft was talking to McDaniels over the last 48 hours and ended up “sweetening his contract” for him to return as offensive coordinator. Another report from ESPN, by Mike Reiss, said Belichick being in place as head coach for 2018 and stability for his family were factors in his return. ESPN said he had told the Colts throughout the process he wanted time to mull the decision with his family, and ultimately decided against taking the job.
The Belichick part of the story is interesting. Because from the outside looking in, it would appear that Belichick’s future had to play into McDaniels’ decision. McDaniels was terrible as Denver’s head coach, and after leaving the Colts at the altar it’s hard to believe he’d get another head coaching job outside of New England. But he would seem to be a good bet to get the Patriots job once Belichick is finished, whenever that is. McDaniels will be just 42 next season and can wait out Belichick, who will turn 66 this offseason. Nobody knows how long Belichick will coach, but presumably he’ll retire before McDaniels hits age 50.
The immediate comparison in NFL history is actually to Belichick, who resigned as New York Jets head coach the day after getting it. Back then Belichick was a defensive coordinator who was pursued by the Patriots, but it was in his contract that he would take over the head coaching job from Bill Parcells. Parcells resigned suddenly to keep Belichick, and Belichick resigned rather than becoming the Jets’ head coach. Belichick ended up in New England after the Patriots gave draft pick compensation to the Jets.
This is different because McDaniels was free to leave, and for weeks it appeared he would. It was reported that he would take the job, though it couldn’t be official until after the Super Bowl because the Patriots were still alive in the playoffs. This episode could lead to a rule change, since teams don’t want to wait out a candidate unitl after the Super Bowl, when all the other openings are filled, then get unexpectedly turned down. Make no mistake, the Colts were put in a truly terrible spot when McDaniels backed out. The Colts announced McDaniels agreed to terms and announced a news conference for Wednesday, but McDaniels hadn’t signed a contract yet.
We are excited to welcome Josh McDaniels, who has agreed to terms as our new head coach!
Press conference scheduled for Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/FIzhqIf2y4
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) February 6, 2018
Now the Colts have to start over with their coaching search. They thought they had their new head coach, but McDaniels and the Patriots had other ideas.
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