By Steve Silverman
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Jets fans may not be thrilled with Todd Bowles as head coach, but they should thank their lucky stars that they don’t have to deal with Josh McDaniels in the same position.
McDaniels showed his true colors earlier this week by backing out of his agreement to become the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and the ramifications of that decision will be felt by the still-New England Patriots offensive coordinator for years.
McDaniels is receiving criticism from all corners of the NFL, and that criticism is justified from this perspective.
The Colts had been talking to McDaniels about their head coach opening since they parted company with Chuck Pagano at the end of the season. McDaniels eventually committed to taking the job. While he had not affixed his signature to a contract, he had agreed to terms and told Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard that he was going to be the team’s next head coach.
But when New England owner Robert Kraft reportedly put the heat to McDaniels just as he was about to leave for Indianapolis, the young coordinator caved and skipped out on the deal.
Let’s just say his word is not stronger than oak.
Here’s why we know that McDaniels is a loose cannon. He was a head coach previously with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and for part of the 2010 season. Not only did McDaniels fail miserably after taking over from Mike Shanahan, he reportedly ran roughshod over his players and others in the organization.
I’ve been told McDaniels came across as a raging egomaniac in Denver, and he landed on his feet as quickly as he did because, let’s face it, he is a very good offensive mind and the Patriots were in need of one.
McDaniels kept a fairly low profile nationally during his second run with New England, reportedly turning down overtures to pursue head coaching opportunities in recent seasons.
But after winning two league championships in the previous three years and playing for yet another one in Super Bowl LII, McDaniels, along with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, was in demand. Patricia went through the normal interviewing procedures and accepted the head coach position with the Detroit Lions. (Some say the Lions need a rocket scientist to advance through the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl for the first time in their history, and that’s literally what they are getting in Patricia.)
But McDaniels backed out on Indy after two of his hires, defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and offensive line coach Dabe DeGulielmo, had already signed contracts with the Colts at his behest.
If that was his only sin in this process, it would be awful. But it didn’t stop there.
Bob LaMonte was his agent and he had negotiated what was presumably a sweet deal for McDaniels. All parties were a go, as McDaniels had given his approval.
McDaniels’ decision to bolt left LaMonte with egg all over his face. Since LaMonte is the agent to a number of head coaches, he did the only thing he could do to maintain his credibility — he promptly dropped McDaniels as a client.
Ballard held a press conference Wednesday and tried to take the high road about getting jilted by this unstable supposed leader. But the fact remains the Colts have been left to scramble to find a new head coach and staff, a situation that could prove to be quite challenging.
Not only will the new head coach be forced to struggle when it comes to putting a stable of quality assistants together, the Colts are at or near the bottom when it comes to talent on both sides of the ball. Since nobody knows when quarterback Andrew Luck will be able to return to the lineup — he missed the 2017 season after shoulder surgery — the Colts are likely to be in the AFC South basement next season.
Maybe McDaniels didn’t like the Colts’ prospects for the short term or the long term. That’s fine, and he could have told Ballard that he was not interested from the start. But like a fickle prom date, he backed out at the worst possible moment.
McDaniels did not break the law and he is not going to jail, but few teams should be interested in him in the future. If he is not the guaranteed replacement for Bill Belichick in 2019 or 2020, it may be a very long time before het gets another opportunity to be a head coach.
But even if he does get the Pats’ top job at some point, he has shown his hand. He is a selfish, ego-driven individual who lacks a sense of decency when it comes to the careers of others.
In addition, McDaniels has managed to throw the NFL for a loop. Everything in this league is done a certain way, and the unwritten rules are powerful and well known.
Men like McDaniels are expected to follow them without fail.
That did not happen here, and the league has been left flabbergasted and shocked that its hiring procedures have been trampled. Instead of dictating the proper way things should be done, the NFL has been pushed around by an offensive coordinator.
McDaniels will likely pay a big price and get ostracized by many of his peers for daring to engage the king in battle. He had the temerity to buck the system. Was that a good thing on some level? Perhaps we’ll never know.
In the interim, McDaniels remains New England’s problem. If and when he replaces Belichick, the Patriots may just regret that they gave this child another opportunity to return. He may be the most self-indulgent man in the NFL.
Please follow Steve on Twitter at @Profootballboy