Josh McDaniels

Patriots Notes: McDaniels, Rookie QBs, Gronk

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe offers an interesting theory as to why the Patriots made an eleventh hour push to retain offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, a theory that has been proffered by two separate league sources. Volin says team brass was taken aback by Bill Belichick‘s controversial decision to bench Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII, and he says the Krafts were also surprised that Belichick was able to wrangle only a second-round pick in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo. As such, Volin suggests that keeping McDaniels really may have been less about having a succession plan and more about giving the Krafts more control over the situation. He writes, “[i]f the tension between the Krafts, Belichick, and [Tom] Brady persists, or if Belichick decides to leave the organization in the next year or two, the Krafts now have a backup plan in McDaniels.” 

Now for more out of Foxborough:

  • Former Patriot Willie McGinest said on the NFL Network that he spoke with McDaniels, and that McDaniels said there was “absolutely not” any type of guarantee that he would succeed Belichick as New England’s head coach (link via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). McDaniels did indicate, however, that he would have job security with the Patriots.
  • Citing a “high-level executive” with a rival team, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says that there is another angle to the Pats’ efforts to keep McDaniels. That executive believes that New England is going to find its quarterback of the future this offseason, and the team wants McDaniels to be around to identify and develop that player.
  • Speaking of QBs the Patriots might target in this year’s draft, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com spoke to Senior Bowl executive director and former Browns GM Phil Savage to see who might be Garoppolo 2.0 (assuming, of course, that the upper-echelon passers will be long gone by the time New England is on the clock with the No. 31 overall pick). Savage named Washington State’s Luke Falk, Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, and Western Kentucky’s Mike White as potential fits, with Lauletta’s skill-set most closely mirroring Garoppolo’s.
  • In the same piece, Reiss reports that the sources close to the situation that he trusts the most say that the decision to bench Butler in Super Bowl LII was purely a football decision, as the team has insisted from the jump. Nonetheless, Reiss does not seem entirely convinced, as he indicates he will do more digging into the matter.
  • Reiss believes, as most do, that Rob Gronkowski will return in 2018 and will not hang up the cleats just yet. Volin says it would be hard to blame Gronk if he did walk away, but he believes the tight end’s comments about retirement are probably just laying the foundation for a new contract, or at least for an incentive package similar to the one the Patriots gave him in 2017.

Belichick Did Most To Sway McDaniels?

Josh McDaniels‘ seminal Tuesday in Foxborough included conversations with both Robert and Jonathan Kraft, but afternoon discussions with Bill Belichick had the most influence on the longtime Patriots OC, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports.

Belichick’s offer included involving McDaniels in conversations about the inner workings of the franchise, from roster construction to cap considerations, and Reiss reports the 42-year-old OC viewed this opportunity as “extremely valuable.”

While Reiss reports Belichick did not explicitly talk McDaniels out of going to the Colts, he could see his longtime assistant was wavering on this decision. The hours of meetings with the Patriots on Tuesday led to a five-minute phone call with Chris Ballard on Tuesday nightReiss notes. While Ballard wished McDaniels luck and didn’t try to talk him out of the about-face maneuver, Reiss reports the second-year GM was “pissed and angry” because this decision “blindsided” him.

Ballard and McDaniels had spoken earlier that morning, with the second-year Colts GM calling to check in on McDaniels and finalize plans for his Wednesday arrival in Indiana. The would-be Colts coach informed Ballard his press conference suit was already chosen, per Reiss. But this obviously changed once Patriots brass — whom multiple outlets have reported did not exercise previous opportunities during the season to express their desire to keep McDaniels — went to work.

However, Reiss notes McDaniels has said privately in the past he does not want to succeed Belichick as HC. He might not have a choice, in the event McDaniels wants to rebuild his reputation as a head coach after a dubious run with the Broncos, after the events of this week.

I don’t think he can ever be a head coach in the NFL,” a former GM told ESPN’s Mike Sando. “I wouldn’t take a chance hiring him. I know it is a stressful time, but what happens again with Josh when the s— gets tight? Does he do the same thing? That is what I would worry about in hiring him as a head coach. That is why I would just pass.

If the owner develops a relationship with him, he has a chance, but GMs will be scared to death.”

McDaniels and perennial GM candidate Nick Caserio‘s close relationship may be the biggest key to a possible chance outside of New England, if/when Caserio takes a GM job. But for now, these two and Belichick will remain as the Patriots’ top decision-makers.

Latest On Josh McDaniels’ Decision, Future

Josh McDaniels will be staying in New England on an unusual contract, with Albert Breer of SI.com hearing the Patriots‘ OC is expected to sign a four- or five-year extension. Coordinators’ deals typically do not run this long, but with the Patriots convincing their longtime play-caller to make this kind of a decision, it makes sense they’d want to keep McDaniels around long-term. Breer notes McDaniels’ current contract is believed to expire after the 2018 season, so the sides figure to hammer out an agreement soon.

Here’s the latest on the McDaniels saga:

  • Nick Caserio‘s presence was a key factor in McDaniels’ decision to spurn the Colts, Breer reports. The Patriots executive’s choice to stay in Foxborough last year likely kept McDaniels from moving to the Bay Area. The tandem would likely be running the 49ers had Caserio become their GM. The two played college football together in Ohio in the 1990s and will continue to be Bill Belichick‘s right-hand men.
  • As for Belichick, Breer notes he’s not operating like a coach who is planning an exit strategy. “He’s certainly not acting like he’s leaving anytime soon,” a source informed Breer. The 65-year-old coach will be entering his 19th season with the Patriots in 2018. While McDaniels may be the heir apparent, Belichick staying on for multiple years would likely drain the remainder of Tom Brady‘s historically long prime and make it more difficult for the prospective McDaniels teams to build on the Belichick squads’ legacies.
  • It appears McDaniels did call the three non-Patriots assistants who were set to be on his first Colts staff. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets McDaniels phoned Matt Eberflus, Mike Phair and Dave DeGuglielmo to alert them of this seminal about-face. The three have signed deals with the Colts, leaving Chuck Pagano‘s actual successor with an interesting predicament. Chris Ballard said he wanted Eberflus to run his defense regardless of McDaniels’ arrival, however.
  • As for why McDaniels initially became enamored with the Colts, their second-year GM served as the chief reason he was once all set to move to Indianapolis, Breer notes. McDaniels holds Ballard in high regard, and although Andrew Luck was a prime selling point, the Colts’ top decision-maker was the primary reason behind the would-be McDaniels New England exodus.
  • Despite the Patriots’ offensive success under McDaniels, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com writes NFL teams were slow to offer him a second chance after how badly his Broncos tenure went. Robinson noted some around the league questioned whether the 42-year-old assistant had really matured much since his failed Denver stint. The Giants appear to have felt he didn’t. McDaniels became a hot commodity in recent years but now has effectively set a potential bridge to an HC job outside of Massachusetts ablaze. Although, Cesario landing a GM job could lead to an attempt to sell his owner on McDaniels sometime down the line.
  • Not only do the Colts not have any legal recourse they can take after being burned here, Mike Wells and Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com write they don’t look to have grounds for a grievance with the league. McDaniels never signed Colts contract or stopped being the Patriots’ OC.

Bears Questioned McDaniels Leaving Pats

Before Josh McDaniels flip-flopped on the Colts, he was in the running for other head coaching gigs, including the Bears. The Bears ultimately settled on Matt Nagy as their HC, in part because the team questioned whether McDaniels was actually willing to leave the Patriots, Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Josh McDaniels (Vertical)

[RELATED: Bears Meet With CB David Amerson]

Before the Super Bowl, McDaniels spoke glowingly of the Bears and Ryan Pace, using adjectives like ‘‘tremendous’’ and ‘‘very well-prepared’’ to describe the GM. However, it seems that Pace & Co. picked up on McDaniels’ very real trepidation in leaving New England. The Colts had a funny feeling about McDaniels waffling days before they announced his hire, but they surely wish that they had a sense for his cold feet before settling on him and passing on runner-up Mike Vrabel.

Now that Vrabel and other top names are off the board, the Colts will be forced to start from square one with a whole new cast of candidates. As of this writing, the team has interviews scheduled with Saints assistant Dan Campbell and Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich while an interview request has been put in for Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub may also be in consideration.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Colts, Josh McDaniels

On Wednesday morning, GM Chris Ballard faced the media in the wake of Josh McDaniels‘ shocking decision to back out on becoming the team’s next head coach. Here’s a look at the highlights plus other news on McDaniels’ flip-flop:

  • McDaniels’ agent, Bob LaMonte, told him that he’s making perhaps the biggest professional mistake of his career by backing out of this Colts job at this point, according to sources who spoke with Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). On Wednesday afternoon, LaMonte terminated his relationship with McDaniels, a source tells Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (on Twitter). LaMonte is forfeiting a potentially large commission down the road should McDaniels become a head coach again, but he is also protecting future business by distancing himself from the Patriots OC.
  • Colts were going to pay McDaniels “fabulously,” a source tells Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter), so money was not the issue in Indianapolis. Pelissero hears that the coach also wasn’t warded off by Andrew Luck’s injured shoulder, owner Jim Irsay, or Ballard. At the end of the day, the Patriots just convinced him to stay. There’s no new contract in place for McDaniels yet, but Pelissero expects that to happen soon.
  • Ballard says two doctors who looked at Luck after the season have determined that he does not need surgery (Twitter link via Pelissero). Luck’s arm strength is good, the GM says, but he is now working on motion and arm speed. He has yet to pick up a football, but the team will not rush him or skip any steps.
  • The GM confirmed that none of the coaches from the initial wave of interviews will be in the mix, meaning that Kris Richard and Matt Rhule will not be considered (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • There were other candidates the Colts wanted to interview, Ballard said, but the playoffs got in the way (Twitter link via Stephen Holder of ESPN.com). The Colts are expected to request an interview with Eagles OC Frank Reich and he fits the bill as a coach who was tied up during the playoffs. Of course, the same could be said of McDaniels and that did not stop Indy from interviewing him.
  • The Colts will honor the contract of defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and others who have already signed their deals. That’s not an issue for Ballard who explained that he knew Eberflus well through Rod Marinelli. The former Dallas assistant was already a guy he wanted to run his defense.
  • The Colts got an uneasy feeling a week ago that something could be stalling with McDaniels, despite moving forward with his contract (Twitter link via Jay Glazer of FOX Sports).
  • McDaniels arrived at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday with the intention of cleaning out his office, but Bill Belichick‘s willingness to take his mentorship to a higher level played a big part in McDaniels reversing course, sources tell ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. Belichick told McDaniels that he would spend more time with him on the inner workings of the team, including roster construction and salary-cap management, which was viewed as “extremely valuable” to McDaniels. That could be part of a succession plan for Belichick in the future, but no assurances have been made to McDaniels.

Patriots Have Not Promised HC Job To Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels made the decision to walk away from the Colts’ head coaching job offer without receiving a promise that he will succeed Bill Belichick as the Patriots’ next head coach, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.Josh McDaniels (vertical)

McDaniels reportedly did not bail on Indianapolis because of money, but instead had concerns about moving his family away from the New England area. While McDaniels received “clarity” as to Belichick’s future in recent days, that apparently doesn’t mean he’s been told he’ll become the Pats head coach whenever Belichick retires. Indeed, if McDaniels had been informed Belichick was nearing retirement, he’d have been more inclined to take a head coaching job.

McDaniels may have had worries about the condition of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reported Sunday that some doctors believe Luck may require another surgery), but Florio indicates McDaniels’ chief concerns involved working with Colts owner Jim Irsay. Whether the next round of Indianapolis candidates will have that same uneasiness is unclear, but the Colts plan to restart their head coaching search this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Details On Josh McDaniels’ Rejection Of Colts HC Job

In a move not seen since Bill Belichick resigned as “HC of the NYJ” in 2000, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels decided not to accept the Colts’ head coaching position after the club had already formally announced his hire. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who originally reported the McDaniels story, has since offered more details on the New England play-caller’s decision:

  • While McDaniels’ decision to remain with the Patriots may lead many to speculate that Belichick is close to retirement, that may not be the case, per Schefter. In fact, had Belichick made it clear that he was about to leave New England, McDaniels would have been more inclined to accept a head coaching offer. As Schefter reported earlier, Patriots owner Robert Kraft “sweetened” McDaniels’ contract over the past few days — had that overture started sooner, McDaniels may not have taken any head coaching interviews, at all.
  • Although McDaniels ultimately decided to reject the Colts’ offer, his decision was not based on money, according to Schefter. Instead, McDaniels had concerns about moving his family away from the New England area (the same worries he reportedly had while considering the 49ers’ job a year ago). His unease with leaving the Patriots lead to the Colts having McDaniels in for a second interview. While Indy formally announced McDaniels as its new head coach earlier today, McDaniels had never officially signed a contract, per Schefter.
  • Despite rejecting this present opportunity, McDaniels would still like to become a head coach again, per Schefter. It seems incredibly unlikely that any team will trust McDaniels with a head coaching job in the near future given his decision to bail on the Colts, but — clearly — he does have some interest in becoming the next Patriots’ head coach when Belichick retires.
  • McDaniels was reportedly offering jobs to assistants earlier today, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Some coaches, such as Matt Eberflus (defensive coordinator), Dave DeGuglielmo (offensive line), and Mike Phair (defensive line) have already signed contracts with the Colts, and they’ll be offered roles under the new Indianapolis head coach, whomever that may be, per Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link).
  • Kraft’s decision to put the full-court press on McDaniels may have deeper roots, as one source texted Schefter (Twitter link): “That’s Kraft putting it to the Colts again. He will forever try and (expletive) that place ever since DeflateGate.”

Josh McDaniels Rejects Colts HC Job, Will Remain With Patriots

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has rejected the Colts head coaching job and will instead remain in New England, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Josh McDaniels (vertical)

It’s a stunning reversal by McDaniels, whom the Colts officially announced as their new head coach earlier today. Although there had been increasing chatter that McDaniels could bail on Indianapolis, the team’s official press release seemed to put those rumors to bed. Instead, McDaniels has opted not to take the job, leaving the Colts to restart their search process.

McDaniels had been viewed as one of the preeminent head coaching candidates of the 2018 cycle, and the Colts had reportedly agreed to hire him as their next head coach as far back as January 14. Indianapolis stopped interviewing other contenders for the job, McDaniels stopped taking meetings with other clubs, and the hunt had seemed to be over. Indeed, McDaniels had even begun hiring a staff.

However, Patriots owner Robert Kraft began “sweetening” McDaniels’ New England contract over the past 48 hours as part of an effort to keep the offensive play-caller in tow, tweets Schefter. Family concerns also played into McDaniels’ decision, as did “clarity” over head coach Bill Belichick‘s future, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). While Belichick is returning for the 2018 campaign, that report could indicate McDaniels has been told when Belichick will retire.

For the Colts and general manager Chris Ballard, it’s back to the drawing board. Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub has been viewed as a possible contingency plan for the club, especially given that he and Ballard worked together in Kansas City. Toub never actually interviewed for the Indianapolis job the first time around, and nearly every other candidate who did meet with Ballard & Co. is now employed. Baylor head coach Matt Rhule is the only original contender who hasn’t accepted a new position, and withdrew his name from the Colts’ search after one interview.

It’s unclear what McDaniels’ decision means for those coaches who had agreed to join his staff, but they’re now in-limbo and likely staring at unemployment. Coaches such as Matt Eberflus (who was set to become Indy’s defensive coordinator) and Dave DeGuglielmo (offensive line) are now without jobs. Most positions around the NFL have already been filled, leaving these coaches with limited options going forward.

Now that McDaniels has rejected a job for which he’d already been formally announced, he’ll likely be a hard sell for other vacancies in the future. As such, it’s difficult to imagine that McDaniels hasn’t been told that he’ll be Belichick’s successor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Officially Hire Josh McDaniels

It’s a done deal. The Colts announced that they’ve hired Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as their new head coach. The introductory press conference for the former Patriots offensive coordinator will be held on Wednesday. Josh McDaniels

In a sense, the Colts’ announcement was a mere formality as the two sides struck agreement on a deal in mid-January. However, there were rumblings leading up to the Super Bowl that McDaniels was getting cold feet and could instead stay with the Patriots as their OC. As of Sunday, McDaniels reportedly not yet told the Patriots that he’s leaving. Some around the league believed that McDaniels would stay in New England if Bill Belichick opted to retire and pass the torch to him. But, Belichick has indicated that he’ll return for another season, so that scenario was not on the table for McDaniels, unless he wanted to wait for an indeterminate period of time to potentially take over.

It’s not clear why McDaniels may have been having second thoughts about the job, but one has to wonder if he is at odds with team brass over the team’s offensive coordinator choice. Last month, it was reported that McDaniels had selected Raiders quarterbacks coach Jake Peetz as their new offensive coordinator and the two sides were hammering out a contract. However, team decision makers appear to have their sights set on former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. It’s also possible that McDaniels was considering his options before making everything official since his stint as a head coach with the Broncos did not go as planned.

McDaniels will be tasked with turning the Colts around after a disappointing 4-12 season. On the plus side, they own the No. 3 pick in the draft and they may have their choice between North Carolina State edge rusher Bradley Chubb or Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

The Colts are hoping that McDaniels can help get Andrew Luck back on track. Tom Brady has done his best work under the guidance of the 41-year-old OC, so he certainly seems like the right man for the job. Prior to McDaniels taking over as Patriots OC in 2006, Brady had one 4,000-yard passing season and had never thrown more than 28 TD passes in a campaign. Brady has topped those benchmarks in each of his healthy seasons under McDaniels, save for the first one in 2006.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Patriots, Cousins, Giants, Foles

Will Rob Gronkowski retire this offseason? The tight end hinted at the possibility following the Patriots‘ Super Bowl loss, but head coach Bill Belichick isn’t panicking.

At the end of every season, every person goes through somewhat of a process at the end of the season and then the following season,” Belichick said (via Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com). “I think everyone that is involved in a NFL season, you get pretty drained especially after a season like this. [You] go through the end of the year process. The following year is the following year. It’s the same for everybody. I certainly can’t speak for anybody else.

You’d have to ask any individual for every situation, but I would say five minutes after the game, or the day after the game is not really the time to make those decisions.

Gronkowski maxed out his incentive-laden 2017 contract by returning to first-team All-Pro status, the fourth time he’s done so in his eight-year career. Only Tony Gonzalez (six) earned more first-team All-Pro distinctions. Gronk will turn 29 in May and still has two seasons remaining on his extension signed back in 2012. He’s set to earn $8MM in base salary in 2018 and take up $10.91MM of the Patriots’ cap.

Here’s more from the AFC champions and the latest from the NFC East.

  • Take this with a grain of salt, but Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told reporters that he will not address whether he’s going to join the Colts as their new head coach or stay in New England as their offensive coordinator (Twitter link via Doug Kyed of NESN). A report emerged during Super Bowl LII that McDaniels was considering backing out of his unofficial Indianapolis agreement.
  • Redskins president Bruce Allen has been speaking to rival executives about possibly tagging Kirk Cousins, but they don’t see the logic in doing that, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. The feeling around the league, La Canfora says, is that consideration of the tag feels overly personal. As PFR’s Rory Parks explained over the weekend, tagging and trading Cousins could wind up backfiring hard on the team.
  • The Giants are planning to hire two more assistants for Pat Shurmur‘s first staff. Deshea Townsend and Ben Wilkerson will be joining the staff as assistant defensive backs coach and assistant offensive line coach, respectively, Alex Marvez of the Sporting News reports. A 13-year NFL veteran corner, Townsend served as the Titans’ DBs coach during Mike Mularkey‘s two-year run. Wilkerson spent the past three seasons on John Fox‘s Bears staff.
  • Carson Wentz‘s severe knee injuries would make the Eagles “fools” to trade Nick Foles now, especially considering what Jimmy Garoppolo fetched in a trade in October, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes. Signed to just a two-year, $11MM deal, Foles could serve as an elite insurance policy while Wentz recovers. While the Super Bowl champions’ franchise quarterback is hopeful to return in time for the start of the 2018 season, the December setback could leave him on the shelf going into training camp.
  • Conversely, the Eagles’ lack of a second- or third-round pick in next year’s draft could make acquiring a second-rounder more important than keeping Foles while Wentz recovers, Les Bowen of Philly.com writes. Foles’ previous shortcomings as a starter should give teams pause, but his 72 percent playoff completion rate this year was third in NFL history — behind only Joe Montana (1989) and Troy Aikman (1993) — for a player with at least 75 throws. And his stock will probably never be higher. The 29-year-old passer would be an interesting name on an already complex QB market.

Zach Links contributed to this report.