INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The dominoes began falling Monday, and the first to topple over deleted one from the Indianapolis Colts’ list of candidates.
The Chicago Bears hired Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy to fill their head coaching vacancy, two days after Nagy’s Chiefs were eliminated from the playoffs in a 22-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans. It had been reported nationally the Colts had scheduled a Sunday meeting with Nagy, but it’s uncertain if that occurred.
With Nagy out of the mix, the focus sharpens on three individuals who reportedly met with Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard last week: New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard and Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel.
McDaniels, 41, remains the candidate with the deepest resume and the one who seems to be drawing the most interest. Along with meeting with the Colts last week, he reportedly had interviews with the Bears and New York Giants. A look at McDaniels:
We could make a strong argument Ballard should bring in a head coach with a strong offensive background. As long as Andrew Luck is the cornerstone of the franchise, everything must be done to maximize his potential. A candidate with expertise elsewhere certainly could bring in a coordinator to oversee and further develop Luck, but a candidate with a proven track record on offense might be preferred.
McDaniels possesses that proven track record. He’s been the Patriots’ offensive coordinator/quarterbacks for nine seasons – the last six, and from 2006-08 – and New England routinely has ranked among the top 10 in most critical categories. Since ’12, the Pats have been no worse than 11th in total offense, and ranked No. 1 twice, including this year. They’ve ranked no lower than 4th in scoring.
Yes, McDaniel has worked in tandem with Tom Brady, so it’s fair to question where the bulk of the credit rests. But it’s also worth noting Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in the ’08 opener and backup Matt Cassel stepped in and, under McDaniels’ guidance, had a career year. He passed for 3,693 yards and 21 TDs and led New England to a 10-5 record in Brady’s absence.
The Colts’ strength moving forward, with Luck and T.Y. Hilton, remains on offense. McDaniels’ expertise is offense. He also has extensive knowledge of Jacoby Brissett, a 2016 third-round draft pick of the Patriots who was traded to the Colts in early September.
A perfect match? We’ll see.
Second time around:
One box McDaniels checks is the one marked: Prior head coaching experience. After a productive three-year stint as the Patriots coordinator, he replaced Mike Shanahan as head coach of the Denver Broncos in January 2009. That stint lasted less than two seasons and with McDaniels exiting with an 11-17 record.
According to the Denver Post, a major factor in McDaniels’ firing after a 3-9 start in ’10 was his lack of openness in a videotaping controversy. He and the team were fined $50,000 each by the NFL after a Broncos’ employee videotaped a San Francisco practice prior to the teams’ week 8 game in London. It was determined the employee acted on his own and without McDaniels’ knowledge, but the Broncos were not pleased McDaniels didn’t report the incident once he learned of it.
McDaniels is convinced he learned from the Denver overall experience, including from his run-ins with quarterback Jay Cutler and wideout Brandon Marshall. We’re about to find out if a coach-needy team – the Colts? – agrees.
McDaniels on interest being shown:
“No idea, really,’’ he told Patriots’ media on how the coaching search might pan out. “I did what was allowed and kind of re-focused on moving into this week and focusing on Tennessee. I have no other information.’’
The 13-3 Patriots are the AFC’s No. 1 seed and had a bye last week. They entertain the Titans Saturday in Foxborough, Mass.
Brady on McDaniels:
“Josh has done an incredible job. He’s an incredible coach and a great friend,’’ Brady told Boston radio station WEEI. “This is that time of year where coaches get an opportunity. A lot of coaches get fired and that means other guys will get hired.
“You want to take the good ones. We have some great coaches and Josh has been such a great coach for me. All those things sort themselves out.’’