According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Indianapolis Colts have narrowed their head coaching search two two candidates: New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel.
Two weeks in, here is a primer on the coaching carousel:— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 13, 2018
— #Colts cut their list to 2 finalists
— #Lions still have #Patriots DC Matt Patricia in their reach
— #Giants haven’t eliminated candidates
— #AZCardinals will bring back finalists https://t.co/eUycm9Dx3v
“Indianapolis has narrowed its search to two candidates: Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. The plan is to gather intel this weekend, meet, then proceed Monday with either second interviews or simply by making a choice. McDaniels figures to be the front-runner, in part because if it was Vrabel the Colts would have made a move already. Based on the relationship between general manager Chris Ballard and McDaniels, as well as McDaniels’ prowess with the quarterback position, McDaniels has long been in the lead. The only issue is the Colts might have to wait until February to hire him.”
Matt Danely and I talked about this on The Stampede Blue Colts Cast podcast this week. This is very reminiscent of the Kyle Shanahan/San Francisco 49ers situation from last year. The 49ers and Shanahan were rumored to be a done deal long before the team announced the hire. Shanahan was still in the playoffs as the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, eventually losing the Super Bowl. Because of that, the two sides had to wait all the way until Atlanta’s season was over in February to make anything official. They likely had a handshake agreement in place long before things were announced.
Rapoport’s report is awfully detailed to not have some truth to it. With Vrabel’s team no longer being in the playoffs, if he was the Colts’ choice then they could have made the offer and announced it by now. Also, just because nothing may be announced come Monday, that doesn’t mean that the Colts won’t have their decision, like Rapoport said. If it’s McDaniels, expect it to be hush until the Patriots’ season is over.
Stephen Holder of The Indianapolis Star made a great point as well, mentioning that McDaniels and Colts general manager Chris Ballard both employ agent Bob LaMonte. Per Holder:
“As it relates to McDaniels and the Colts, here’s a fun fact: He and Ballard have the same representative, super agent Bob LaMonte. That’s not necessarily a reason to connect dots, but it’s not something to ignore, either.
As a league source explained, LaMonte has a history of trying to engineer situations where clients can work in coach-GM tandems. There have been several such arrangements in the past – whether intentional or not. They include Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman in Philadelphia in 2016, Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco in San Diego in 2013 and Pat Shumur and Mike Holmgren in Cleveland in 2011. That’s a lot of coincidences, right?
Will it happen again in 2018 in Indianapolis? We shall see.”
Now, moving on to Vrabel. He is much more the underdog for the position on paper, as you can obviously see. He has only been the Texans’ defensive coordinator for one season, and he had to deal without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus almost the whole time, plus the loss of A.J. Bouye over the offseason. Because of all of that, Houston finished 20th in total defense.
Vrabel is said to be a legitimate candidate and will likely be a more popular name in the coming years, but the smart money — if it is just between these two — is on McDaniels.