Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels Eyeing Packers Job?

Could the Packers’ search for a new head coach lead them to Josh McDaniels? The Packers’ interest level in the Patriots offensive coordinator is unclear, but McDaniels could be positioning himself for the job, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports writes. 

[RELATED: Packers Fire Mike McCarthy]

A handful of NFL assistants have indicated interest in joining a McDaniels-led Packers coaching staff, sources tell Robinson. One of those coaches pulled his name from consideration for a college coordinator position in order to keep that possibility alive, so there’s a strong belief out there that McDaniels could wind up in Green Bay.

Earlier this year, McDaniels agreed to become the next head coach of the Colts but ultimately left them at the altar. Despite his offensive knowhow, it remains to be seen whether the Packers or any other team would consider hiring McDaniels in this upcoming cycle. For what it’s worth, McDaniels does not believe he is “burned” when it comes to future opportunities, according to Robinson.

Of course, there are factors working in McDaniels’ favor. In previous years, energetic young coaches such as Sean McVay and Matt Nagy were among the hottest candidates of the offseason, but there’s a serious lack of NFL experience in this year’s group of non-retreads. There’s lots of buzz surrounding coaches like Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, but it’s not hard to imagine a club preferring the experience that McDaniels brings.

McDaniels also has experience in managing an elite quarterback, which should be a focus of the Packers after Mike McCarthy‘s relationship with Aaron Rodgers went south.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Rumors: McDaniels, Arians, Marrone

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels seemed to irreparably damage his future head coaching prospects with every team in the league except New England when he infamously jilted the Colts last offseason. But he has already been mentioned as a candidate for the Browns‘ head coaching job, and as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, there will be no shortage in interest in McDaniels when the head coaching carousel starts spinning in 2019. La Canfora does not specifically name any teams who are expected to pursue the 42-year-old, but his sources indicate that McDaniels will be under strong consideration despite the fiasco in Indianapolis.

Now let’s take a look at other rumors concerning current, and possibly future, head coaches:

  • Speaking of the Browns, former Colts and Cardinals HC Bruce Arians recently said he would only consider becoming a head coach again if he were hired by Cleveland, but he walked those comments back shortly thereafter. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Arians was serious the first time and that he will contemplate returning to the sidelines if he can become the Browns’ head coach. Arians indicated that he will not consider overtures from any other clubs, but that if he does land the Cleveland gig, he would keep Freddie Kitchens as offensive coordinator and would consider keeping defensive coordinator Gregg Williams — currently the Browns’ interim HC — as well.
  • It remains to be seen whether Arians’ interest in the Browns is mutual, but La Canfora reports that the team is expected to reach out to Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, who is very much on the NFL’s radar as a legitimate head coaching candidate. We have heard previously that Cleveland GM John Dorsey is a big fan of Campbell.
  • Although the Jaguars are in the midst of a hugely disappointing season, Rapoport says that head coach Doug Marrone is not on the hot seat and is in no danger of losing his job at the moment (video link).
  • Despite unceremonious ousters from Oakland and Cleveland, La Canfora writes that Hue Jackson could become a head coach again as soon as next year. Jackson is back in Cincinnati as special assistant to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, and if Lewis were to retire or transition to an upper-management position, JLC suggests that Jackson could take the reins. Team owner Mike Brown, who does things his own way, is a big fan of Jackson, and league sources say they would not be surprised if Brown goes that route.
  • The Bears‘ defense is excelling in 2018, which means that Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will once again garner significant interest from teams looking for a new HC this offseason, per La Canfora. Fangio has interviewed previously for the head-coaching jobs in Chicago and San Francisco, and the Bears paid him very well to keep him aboard as Matt Nagy‘s DC when they hired Nagy to be their head coach earlier this year. There is a general bias against defensive-oriented coaches these days, but Fangio is regarded as one of the best defensive minds in the game and has a strong reputation for being able to connect with troubled players and to get the most out of his units.

North Notes: Bell, Browns, Green, Cook

The Le’Veon Bell saga is coming to a head, as the Steelers running back must sign his franchise tender by November 13 to be eligible to play for any team this season. But as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, the CBA does not dictate that Bell must report by that day, only that he sign the tender. That means that Bell could sign the tender and not report until next Saturday, which would make him eligible to be added to the roster for next Sunday’s game — not that he would be playing in that game regardless — or he could just not sign the tender at all and skip the entire season.

The latter option is not considered likely at this time, but La Canfora says that if Bell does skip the entire 2018 campaign, the Steelers would strongly consider slapping the franchise or transition tag on him next offseason, which would of course set up another drama-filled battle. La Canfora further reports that no rival clubs called Pittsburgh at last week’s trade deadline in an attempt to acquire Bell.

Now for more the league’s North divisions:

  • When the Browns have hired a new head coach in recent seasons, they have used a search firm, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) says he would be surprised if the team, with respected GM John Dorsey now in charge, goes that route when it looks for another HC this offseason. Rapoport’s sources expect Dorsey to conduct the search himself, and they expect that he will do so very “secretly.” Rapoport says one name under consideration would be Josh McDaniels, who is reportedly open to revisiting HC opportunities (should another one come his way), and RapSheet also lists John DeFilippo, Mike McCarthy, and Lincoln Riley as potential targets.
  • Bengals WR A.J. Green is battling a toe injury, per Rapoport (via Twitter), who says that Green either has visited or will visit foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson. There will be more clarity on the injury soon, and Rapoport says surgery remains on the table. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Green is expected to miss time regardless of whether he has surgery.
  • Vikings WR Stefon Diggs will miss today’s game with a rib injury, per Rapoport (video link), though it is uncertain whether Diggs will miss any additional time (given that he expected to play today and was listed as questionable on the final injury report, it seems that he’ll be ready to go after Minnesota’s bye next week. Meanwhile, RB Dalvin Cook is expected to hit the field today, which will mark his first appearance since Week 4. Cook will be on a pitch count and is only expected to see 20 snaps or so, but when the team returns from bye, it could have Cook and Diggs at full strength.
  • The Packers signed punter Drew Kaser yesterday, but the team is not moving on from incumbent J.K. Scott at this time, per ESPN.com. However, it is still an open question as to whether Scott will be punting against the Patriots tonight.
  • We learned earlier today that Ravens HC John Harbaugh is on the hot seat as the team faces a critical divisional matchup against Pittsburgh this afternoon.

Patriots Notes: Gronk, McDaniels, Guerrero

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) passes along a couple of interesting items this morning regarding several key faces in the Patriots’ locker room. While we knew that New England had indeed attempted to trade star tight end Rob Gronkowski this offseason, Rapoport says that those trade talks were “intense” and that the Pats were actually close to dealing Gronk at one point. However, Rapoport reports that Gronkowski then stepped in and adamantly informed the front office that he would either retire or remain with the Patriots, but that he would not go anywhere else. At that point, Rapoport says, trade talks were scrapped and, as we know, the team sweetened Gronk’s contract late last month.

Let’s take a look at a few more notes out of Foxborough as the Pats get set to kick off the 2018 campaign:

  • In response to Rapoport’s discussion about Gronkowski this morning, Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston revisited a report of his own (video link) in which he indicated that the Patriots did talk with several clubs about a Gronkowski trade. However, Curran says interest in Gronk was more tepid than one might think — in contrast to Rapoport’s report that the Pats almost had a deal in place — and that Tom Brady informed the team that he would not play if his top tight end was dealt.
  • In the same report linked above, Rapoport says that one reason OC Josh McDaniels left the Colts at the altar this offseason is because the Patriots gave him a five-year contract — which is largely unheard of for a coordinator — and that the contract pays McDaniels like a first-time head coach. In fact, Rapoport says that McDaniels is by far the highest-paid coordinator in the league, and his contract will eventually pay him over $4MM per year.
  • The role of Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, has been one of the sources of conflict between Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, as we explained earlier this year. However, Rapoport reports that a compromise on Guerrero’s role has been reached. Under the terms of the compromise, Brady and Gronkowski may use Guerrero’s services when they so choose, and Guerrero has “solid” access to Gillette Stadium. Guerrero may also travel with the team, though Rapoport says he is unlikely to travel as much as he did in the past. The most important thing for all sides is that they do not publicly discuss the Guerrero issue in the future, and Rapoport no longer expects the trainer’s role to be a major storyline.
  • The Bills claimed punter Corey Bojorquez  off waivers from the Patriots last week even though Bojorquez never punted in a preseason game. Bojorquez’s lack of game usage was somewhat surprising given that he was seen as a legitimate threat to unseat incumbent punter Ryan Allen, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the team may have been trying to “hide” Bojorquez so that he could clear waivers and return to the Pats’ practice squad, which Bojorquez himself appeared to confirm.
  • Reiss also passes along a couple of notes on the Patriots’ two newest practice squad players, WR Jace Billingsley and T Eric Smith. Reiss says that the team had interest in signing Billingsley to the practice squad last year — he ultimately chose to remain in Detroit on the Lions’ taxi squad — and that the Pats are paying Smith $20K per week (instead of the standard $7,600) because they coveted tackle depth and needed to give him a compelling reason to come to Foxborough.

 

Colts DC Matt Eberflus Discusses McDaniels Ordeal

Back in January, Matt Eberflus was hired to be Josh McDaniel‘s defensive coordinator in Indy. Of course, things quickly changed. After having accepted the gig, McDaniels rejected the Colts and decided to stick with the Patriots.

The Colts ended up settling on Frank Reich as their new head coach, but general manager Chris Ballard still ended up honoring the coaching contracts that had already been signed. That meant that despite the unexpected coaching change, Eberflus ended up sticking around as the Colts’ defensive coordinator.

While the Colts’ front office has been pretty clear about their feeling on McDaniel’s flip-flopping, the team’s coaching staff has been relatively quiet. Thanks to an ongoing interview series by Andrew Walker on Colts.com, we’ve got to hear some of Eberflus’ thoughts on the ordeal. While the entire article is worth reading, we’ve highlighted some of the notable soundbites below…

On his reaction to Josh McDaniel’s decision to not take the Colts coaching gig and remain with the Patriots:

“Yeah, when you get a situation like that — and I was here with Chris (Ballard), because Chris and I had been talking and I got hired here beforehand — so to me it was a situation where I trusted in Chris, where Chris’ vision was and what he was doing, what he’s all about — the kind of man he is; really the kind of organization this is, from Mr. (Jim) Irsay all the way down. And, to me, it was not unsettling at all. It was very calming to me; it wasn’t a problem, and I knew I wanted to be here, and I’m excited to be here in Indianapolis.”

On whether he was questioning his job security after the team hired Frank Reich as their head coach:

“No. Nope. As soon as it happened, Chris walked right in my office and we had a conversation, and it was done from that point.”

On his feelings about the defensive coordinator gig after learning about McDaniel’s decision:

“Well, you know what? In life adversities happen, and it’s how you handle them that count.”

On transitioning his mindset from being McDaniel’s defensive coordinator to being Reich’s defensive coordinator:

“Well, I just found out right from the beginning what kind of guy Frank Reich is. I mean, he is a high-character — same with Chris, same with Mr. Irsay. You find that out when those things happen, and you’re dealing with solid individuals and a solid franchise. And, to me, it was, ‘Step forward from there and let’s go.’”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Pats, Eagles, Gregory, Redskins

Josh McDaniels said recently his role remains the same, despite Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick helping to convince him to stay and thus spurn the Colts. But the longtime Patriots offensive coordinator’s presence in what’s generally a “notoriously small” draft room was indeed an expansion of McDaniels’ responsibilities, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Although many teams may have written McDaniels off after his controversial flip-flop, he was a perennial fixture in HC carousels leading up to his 11th-hour decision to back out of a Colts deal. But the 42-year-old assistant insists he still wants to be a head coach, and taking part in draft-day proceedings would stand to further bolster those hopes.

Here’s the latest from the Easts:

  • The surgery Brandon Graham underwent will keep him out for the entirety of the Eagles‘ offseason program. Graham is hopeful he will be ready for training camp, per Les Bowen of Philly.com. The 30-year-old defensive end decided to go under the knife to accelerate the healing process from a troublesome high ankle sprain suffered on Christmas night. Graham remains in pursuit of an Eagles extension. His contract expires after the 2018 season.
  • Mychal Kendricks also underwent offseason surgery, per Bowen. The veteran linebacker and perpetual trade-block mainstay had minor ankle surgery. This duo follows Timmy Jernigan and Derek Barnett among Eagles defenders to undergo offseason procedures.
  • Arie Kouandjio will undergo surgery, but his recovery time will be far longer than the Eagles’ spate of defensive players who opted for operations. The Redskins guard suffered an injury which Ian Rapoport of NFL.com is calling a partially torn quadriceps and will soon have surgery (Twitter link). It’s unclear at this point how long Kouandjio will be out, but Rapoport notes the recovery time will likely be several months. A recent report pegged Kouandjio as a possible IR candidate, but after this update categorizes the malady as a partially torn quad, the interior blocker may be able to avoid such a distinction.
  • Randy Gregory will apply for reinstatement soon, and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes a Cowboys front office source is optimistic the defensive end will be reinstated this year. Popped for repeated violations of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, the former second-round pick has only played two games since the 2015 season.

Josh McDaniels “Definitely” Wants To Be HC Again

It’s been a hectic offseason for Josh McDaniels. The coach committed to becoming the next head coach of the Colts before changing his mind and returning to New England. The offensive coordinator told Patriots.com (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com) that he was “thankful” for the opportunity to rejoin the coaching staff, but he acknowledged that he still has a desire to be a head coach.

“You know, there’s a lot that goes into those things. It can be very complicated,” McDaniels said. “I’ll say this, I’ve stated again and again that I definitely want to be a head coach again. At the same time, I love being here. This is where my kids were born and raised. And we’ve made a pretty special life here and that’s not an easy thing to leave. So, there’s a lot to consider.

“Certainly, leaving here, I don’t take lightly, ever. I would never take that lightly. It was a difficult process and I’m very happy with the decision that we made and grateful to be here and continue working towards the 2018 season.”

McDaniels’ first head coaching stint was a mixed bag, as he went 11-17 in one-plus seasons with the Broncos. Add in his flip-flopping on the Colts head coaching gig and it may be difficult for the coordinator to secure another offer. Of course, there’s some assumption that McDaniels will eventually take over for Bill Belichick in New England, but the 42-year-old said he hadn’t received any guarantees on a future promotion.

“Nope. Nope. I mean, my role is the same,” McDaniels said. “Look, I think if you’re here, you have an opportunity to work with and for some of the best people in our game. Maybe some of the best people that have ever done those things in our game. So, I feel like it’s a great opportunity to be here in my role.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Cowboys, Smith, Collins, Patriots, Jets

After sitting out his rookie year with ACL and LCL injuries in his left knee and playing last season in an AFO brace for drop foot, Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith has confirmed that he is no longer wearing the brace, the Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill writes.

Smith said he has not worn the brace since he began working out in February. “Getting that flexion back is going to help tremendously … speed, quickness, explosiveness,” Smith said. “I have been feeling great. Everything is about getting back to 100 percent. Every day I am improving.”

A highly touted prospect coming out of Notre Dame, Smith fell to the second round in 2016 after suffering the serious knee injury in his final collegiate game. He returned to the field in 2017 and finished second on the team with 99 tackles despite inconsistent performances.

After a subpar showing in 2017, the Cowboys decided to address the linebacker group in the first round of the 2018 Draft by selecting Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch. The rookie is expected to slide right in at middle linebacker, while Smith and Sean Lee man the outside spots.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Sticking with the Cowboys, it was reported earlier in the week that third-year defensive tackle Maliek Collins broke his foot during the team’s offseason program. The Dallas Morning News’ David Moore now reports the run-clogging lineman is likely to undergo surgery early next week (Twitter link). The injury is expected to sideline him for around three months, and the hope is he will return around the middle of training camp.
  • The Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels spurned a head-coaching gig with the Colts to return to New England in 2018. Though head coach Bill Belichick has said he would take his mentorship “to the next level,” McDaniels told the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels that his role remains the same in 2018. Though his role will stay the same, McDaniels is surely being groomed to take over once the future Hall of Fame coach decides to call it quits.
  • Jets CEO Christopher Johnson is convinced first-round pick Sam Darnold will be a turning point in the franchise’s history, the New York Post’s Brian Lewis writes. “I honestly think they’re going to look back 20 years from now and say this is the moment the Jets shifted into a new year, that they became a great team,” Johnson said. Darnold was heralded by many as the top quarterback in the draft but fell to New York when the Browns opted for Baker Mayfield at No. 1.
  • Also with the Jets, the teams lost its director of college scouting, Matt Bazirgan, who left to become the Texans’ director of player personnel, the New York Post’s Brian Costello writes. He had been with the Jets since 2004 as a college scout. This marks the second straight year the team has had to replace the position.

Extra Points: Bucs, Hargreaves, Seahawks

A video of Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves smoking a cigarette containing an unknown substance surfaced on Instagram this week, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times details. Hargreaves, a University of Florida product, has struggled in the first two years of his young career. Last year, the Bucs tried employing Hargreaves as their nickel cornerback before a hamstring injury ended his season after nine games.

The video alone is unlikely to get Hargreaves into trouble with the law or the NFL, but a positive test for a banned substance such as marijuana would violate the league’s substance abuse policy. All in all, it’s simply not a good look for a player who has failed to make good on his first-round status.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • At the owners’ meetings, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link) heard Mark Sanchez‘s name “as a possibility” for the Seahawks. Someone like Sanchez could serve as a veteran backup to Russell Wilson now that Trevone Boykin is out of the picture.
  • The “Josh McDaniels rule” which would have allowed assistant coaches to sign on as head coaches elsewhere during the playoffs did not pass at this week’s owners’ meetings. Surprisingly, Colts GM Chris Ballard was not among those in support of the rule. “When you’re a playoff team, you’re trying to eliminate all the distractions that you can. And we’re going to be a playoff team and we’re going to have these issues,” Ballard said (via Stephen Holder of the Indy Star). “It becomes a slippery slope. We have rules in place for a reason. I think they’re good rules. It gives you a chance to interview and then, after the season, whatever happens, happens. In our case, he changed his mind and we moved on.”
  • New Broncos defender Su’a Cravens has the ability to play both safety and linebacker, but the team views him strictly as a safety, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Broncos acquired Cravens from Washington on Wednesday in a deal that will net the Redskins a fifth-round pick plus upgraded picks in the fourth and fifth round and a conditional sixth-round choice in 2020.

Patriots’ Josh McDaniels Discusses Colts Flip Flop

Josh McDaniels turned down his second chance to become an NFL head coach this year when he left the Colts at the altar. Nearly two months later, the Patriots offensive coordinator opened up about what took place and the circumstances that led him to staying put in New England. Here’s a look at the highlights of his chat with Jim McBride of the Boston Globe:

On why he remained with the Patriots:

I wasn’t 100 percent sure what the future was. I just hadn’t had any clarity on that. So, where did I fit in? Where there any plans? I just didn’t have much clarity on what my role was here moving forward. Once I heard from Robert and Bill on that Tuesday, it just gave me reason to pause and consider this whole situation. The opportunity to stay here and work for who I think is the greatest owner in sports and the best head football coach in the history of our game, to work with the best quarterback that has ever played . . . Look, I’m privileged to have the opportunity to do that and when they kind of crystallized that — ‘Hey, here’s what we see going forward and here’s how we would like you to fit into it’ — it gave me a reason to stop and say, ‘all right, what’s the best decision for me?’ And certainly it was difficult. But I made the decision on my own, nobody pushed me into it.

On Colts GM Chris Ballard:

Chris was tremendous the whole entire time. He’s an incredible human being. He’s great at what he does. He’s going to be successful. It was difficult. I had a friendship with him — I still do . . . He’s a guy that I have a lot of respect for and admiration for. He was a big reason why I was interested in that job in the first place. It was as difficult a decision as I’ve ever made professionally. He handled it extremely well, he was a complete professional about it.

On his would-be Indy assistants:

I spoke to all of them that night right away, shortly after I talked to Chris. They were professionals. Like I said, it wasn’t easy for anybody. I apologized to them if it put them in an awkward position. They’re all there [in Indianapolis], which I’m very happy about. They have great opportunities, they’re great coaches, they’re great people, and I’m happy that it worked out for them in that regard. Again, it was never my intention to go into this and put anybody in an awkward position or do any harm to anybody or do anything to hurt anybody’s career. That certainly wasn’t a part of my thought process. I just felt like, once I knew the whole picture and I had the opportunity to make a decision, it was tough but I feel like I made the right one.’’

On speculation that his family persuaded him not to relocate:

My family was ready to go to Indianapolis because at that point that was the decision I had made. So, this isn’t a thing where I’m telling you, ‘I couldn’t move and all that’ — that’s not the case. If that were the case I wouldn’t interview. They’re very supportive. My wife’s incredible, my kids are great. Do they love New England? Absolutely . . . And have we been blessed to be part of this organization? No doubt. But I’d say in the long run, this coaching profession is kind of crazy. And they know that. And at some point, if I have to move or if we end up moving, they understand that’s part of the situation and they were ready to do that.’’

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.