As head coaching positions around the NFL begin to get filled at a rapid pace, it’s remarkable how slow and close to the vest the Colts are playing their hand.
At first, we all speculated as to who the Colts may hire. We got very excited about all the possibilities.
After the season, we got word of the interview candidates the team requested. The big fish were there with New England OC Josh McDaniels and Kansas City OC Matt Nagy. The lesser-known candidates were there in Seattle DC Kris Richards, Carolina DC Steve Wilks, and Houston DC Mike Vrabel. One name we expected to hear but haven’t is actually my favorite candidate Kansas City STC Dave Toub.
As the days wear on, we’re seeing names get checked off the list. Nagy has chosen to take the Chicago Bears job after meeting with the Colts. A local Chicago reporter made some bold claims as to why Nagy chose the Bears over the Colts, but those seem a bit far-fetched in an attempt to drum up local excitement. We’re hearing Wilks is likely the top choice for the New York Giants. That is hardly a surprise given his past history with their general manager, Dave Gettleman. New England DC Matt Patricia is rumored to be the guy for the Detroit Lions, where he also has a connection with the general manager.
This leaves McDaniels, Richards, and Vrabel as coaching options the Colts are known to have interviewed. Quite frankly, I’m not sold on any of them. Yes, McDaniels is the sexy pick among those names, but I’m not convinced he’ll be the best option.
Let’s start by getting this out there, no coach from the Bill Belichick coaching tree has ever been at least an average NFL head coach. Let’s go through the list: Romeo Crennel (CLE and KC), Al Groh (NYJ), Josh McDaniels (DEN), Eric Mangini (NYJ and CLE), Nick Saban (MIA), Jim Schwartz (DET) and Bill O’Brien (HOU). None of those coaches were consistently successful in the NFL after leaving Big Bill’s nest. I have a hard time believing McDaniels will buck that trend on his second go around but I could be wrong.
Another issue are the rumors McDaniels wants some control over the roster. That was his downfall when he coached the Denver Broncos. As a reminder, McDaniels traded to get Tim Tebow and said Tebow “has all the traits you look for. It’s a good pick.” He also traded away Pro-Bowl QB Jay Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall.
If McDaniels still adheres to the old Bill Parcells philosophy of “if they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries,” then that is an absolute non-starter for the Colts. The relationship between Chris Ballard and any potential head coach has to be mutually beneficial and cooperative. There are reports that McDaniels knows and likes Ballard. I’ve yet to find anything explaining how they know each other since there doesn’t seem to be any teams they worked for at the same time. However, if McDaniels wants to have a cooperative relationship with Ballard, then that would be intriguing.
As a reminder, McDaniels and the Broncos were fined by the NFL for videotaping the San Francisco 49ers walk-through prior to their game in London. Now in defense of McDaniels, the NFL found he had no knowledge of the videotaping and did not view the tape but was fined for not immediately reporting the incident. This goes to how he much control he has over his staff. The incident was a major issue for the Broncos and was part of what led to McDaniels’ termination.
I’ve read a lot of the same articles you all probably have about McDaniels. They say he’s changed. They say he’s far more self-reflective and more calm, less emotional. Last year, McDaniels chose not to take a head coaching job because it wasn’t the best thing for his family. I’m not sure how that has changed. McDaniels and his wife have four kids between the ages of 4-13. It’s tough to move a young family.
Random fact: The Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick era without McDaniels on staff.
Tom Brady considers McDaniels the best coordinator in the NFL. He may be the best offensive coordinator in the NFL. He very well may be the best coaching option available for the Colts. He could lead the Colts to another decade of success.
One thing we do know for sure is Chris Ballard does his homework and I trust his decision making. When he was hired to be the Colts GM, he showed Jim Irsay his binder of coaching options. It’s known Ballard picked Jacoby Brissett’s brain about McDaniels when Brissett was brought in. Maybe the biggest thing going in favor of Josh McDaniels with regards to Irsay is the apparent support he receives from former Colts coach Tony Dungy.
McDaniels may be Ballard’s top target to replace Chuck Pagano. If he is, it is because Ballard believes McDaniels is the best candidate for the job. While I prefer the Colts to hire Toub and bring in some high-quality coordinators, I trust Chris Ballard. I’m confident he will do what is right for the Colts franchise. If that’s hiring Josh McDaniels, then I’m fully on board.
Here’s to a more hopeful new year for Colts fans.