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Off-Season Roundtable: Is Josh McDaniels a Good Choice for Head Coach?

AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Colts off-season is still young and there are still plenty of questions that need to be addressed. Our crew of writers broke down the most pressing questions — presented by Andrew Aziz.

Roundtable members: Andrew Aziz, Jake Arthur, Faraz Majid, Stephen Reed, Chris Shephard

Question 1: Is Josh McDaniels a good hire as head coach?

Chris Shepherd: Yes, but time will tell just how good. That said, it’s hard for fans make projections with any certainty and anyone claiming to know, with certainty, that a guy will succeed or fail is full of it. There are just too many moving parts to make any guarantees. Every team is going to have a different feel and culture and finding a coach that fits it and understands how to mold a team consistent with his vision and within that culture is kind of a crap-shoot. Luck is involved, nothing can be 100%.

McDaniels has been to the top and won big and he’s failed in equally spectacular fashion. In my personal life, I won’t pretend I’ve ever succeeded at that same level or failed as publicly, but I’ve had big wins and massive failures and each time I’ve had those big triumphant successes I haven’t really learned much. On the other hand the failures I’ve had have completely changed the course of my life, those things have taught me more than I could have ever learned otherwise. I have a job, a house, a loving family, I’m very fortunate but I’ve had to work hard for it and without those failures I would not be where I am now.

When I look at McDaniels, I see a guy who’s succeeded and failed greatly. Instead of letting it destroy him, he really seems to have learned and grown as a man and he’s succeeded again. Had he not learned anything he would have taken the first head coaching job that came his way and we know he turned down opportunities last year. He’s smart, he’s choosing his next job carefully.

When you combine that with amazing play design and game planning, in my opinion he’s a great hire. Dan Orlovsky, yes that Dan Orlovsky broke down a Pats screen play from their game against the Titans and it’s a truly brilliant play-design against man coverage:

McDaniels is a solid hire given the information we have. I’m excited about 2018 and beyond.

Jake Arthur: While I share many people’s concerns about McDaniels, I am all in on this pickup. While Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub was always target No. 1 when Chris Ballard was hired, McDaniels was right there, next in line.

Dan Pompei’s piece on McDaniels and how he’s learned, grown, and changed since his Denver days really has me on board with him getting another chance. McDaniels sounds like a guy who was humbled, knows he made mistakes in how he conducted himself, and truly wants to do better.

I think the Colts are in a better position to bring McDaniels in than Denver was at the time and as long as the Colts’ players are ready to work hard and not have their coach be their friend first, this could work out. At the same time, McDaniels also has to make sure that he draws the line between being a leader and an arrogant jerk.

The biggest thing that signs me off on this move is Chris Ballard. I’ve grown to trust him explicitly as a GM, even if he’s only been on the job for a year. I think he is a very smart “football guy” that will put the team first at all times. His emphasis in Indianapolis has been about building a program and a strong locker room. If he thought McDaniels was still some brash know-it-all, he would not have made this move.

Faraz Majid: I’m lukewarm on him. Even if there are articles on him saying he’s changed, we won’t know until he’s been here awhile. It’s concerning that people saw him as an “equipment manager” or a “kid throwing a tantrum” in Denver, when he’s supposed to be the leader of his team. Yes, learning from your mistakes is huge way of becoming a better person and a professional but that doesn’t mean everybody does it. If Pagano had learned from all of his failures he could be the best coach in NFL history.

All that said, I’d like to believe he’s realized that getting along with his best players and coveted coaches is important.

As for his offenses, Denver wasn’t terrible, considering what he was working with. He had only 1 year to implement his system with the Rams. I do like what I’ve seen with the Patriots offense. In particular, I really like the way he uses pre-snap motion and misdirection, so I’m willing to see the positives on that side of the ball.

If he can build the offense properly around Luck, all his past misconduct will go out the window. I just hope he remembers what he’s learned from his past failure and doesn’t fall back into old habits. I also think may succeed no matter what because he has Andrew Luck at QB, who clearly provides a lot of job security for any head coach.

Andrew Aziz: While I may not be as sold on him like many are, I’m still in favour of the hiring. McDaniels has the best resume of all the candidates on the market, has studied under one of the greatest coaches of all time, has head coaching experience of his own, and has coached one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

McDaniels’ Erhardt-Perkins offense is what the Colts need. It’s a quick, rhythmic passing offense that puts a lot of emphasis on quick receivers with good hands and good route running. This type of offense can keep Andrew Luck healthy, just like it’s kept Tom Brady healthy for most of his career.

I also like the hire because of his relationship with Chris Ballard, both of whom share the same agent. A strong head coach and general manager relationship is key to the success. If both can work in unison, big things can happen in Indy. I look to Seattle and Baltimore where each team has a strong head coach-general manager relationship and both teams have seen tremendous amounts of success over the years.

I believe with a quarterback like Andrew Luck, McDaniels can thrive in Indianapolis.

Stephen Reed: Given the options available, I like the McDaniels hire. I’m hesitant based on his tenure in Denver, however, I’m cautiously optimistic he’ll succeed with the Colts.

McDaniels was given too much power and had too little experience in Denver. He tried to institute the Patriot Way with a bunch of veterans. At 33, he didn’t have the respect to do that.

I do believe people can change and grow. Everything I’ve read makes me believe McDaniels has changed. He’s also got the support of Tony Dungy, which is always huge in Indianapolis.

Also, McDaniels won’t have the stress of personnel control. Removing that from McDaniels’ plate allows him to focus on coaching. That will be good for him.

McDaniels’ success could hinge on his coordinators. If the rumors are true about Matt Eberflus as the DC, that’s a good hire. McDaniels could still call plays, which I’d be game for since he’s been brilliant in that role in New England.


Is Josh McDaniels a good choice for Colts head coach?

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