Breaking down the Josh McDaniels saga and what exactly happened

Josh McDaniels shocked the NFL world last night when it was reported he would withdraw his name from the Colts head coach position and return to New England as their offensive coordinator.

There were some rumblings during the Super Bowl that McDaniels was having second thoughts about accepting the Indy job but ultimately the Colts announced on Tuesday morning that they had hired Josh McDaniels to be their next head coach. McDaniels actually drove to Gillette Stadium on Tuesday morning to clean out his office and say his goodbyes.

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So what happened? 

While the Colts thought they had their guy and were preparing to introduce him the following day, Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick had an ‘extensive meeting’ with McDaniels to try to keep him in New England.

The Colts offered McDaniels a deal in the range of $5M-$7M annually, according to reports. Kraft added more money to McDaniels’ contract but salary wasn’t the reason he stayed. 

All along, McDaniels wasn’t comfortable with the idea of taking his family out of New England and moving to Indianapolis. 

 The bigger factor to McDaniels was that the Patriots, who hadn’t addressed his future until the past week or so, made an ultra-aggressive late push to try to entice him to stay. Had that happened a month or so ago, McDaniels might not have pursued other head-coaching jobs as aggressively.

McDaniels has no responsibility to the Colts because he never signed a contract. From the NFL’s perspective, no deal is done until it’s actually done. 

By around 7 pm EST, McDaniels called Colts GM Chris Ballard and told him he was backing out, opting to stay with the Patriots as offensive coordinator instead of taking his long-awaited second shot as a head coach in the league.

McDaniels’ decision to stay sparked speculation that perhaps Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s tenure is about to end, but according to ESPN and other media outlets, there was no commitment made to McDaniels after Belichick eventually leaves New England.

Some will say that McDaniels had concerns about the health of QB Andrew Luck. According to Chris Mortenson, there still are doctors who have concerns about Andrew Luck’s shoulder and whether he could wind up needing additional surgery. Those close to the situation are not buying that Andrew Luck’s health issues or problems with owner Jim Irsay are factors into McDaniels’ decision to remain in Foxboro.

Despite McDaniels’ decision, two people who agreed to be assistants for him in Indianapolis will remain with the Colts, regardless of who the next head coach will be, according to ESPN. Former Cowboys assistant head coach/linebackers coach Matt Eberflus signed to become the Colts’ defensive coordinator, and former Illinois defensive line coach Mike Phair signed to become D-line coach. McDaniels “felt terrible” about the damage left in his wake, with the Colts already having signed contracts with coaches for his proposed staff. 

The Colts released this statement:

“After agreeing to contract terms to become the Indianapolis Colts’ new head coach, New England Patriots assistant coach Josh McDaniels this evening informed us that he would not be joining our team,” the team said in a statement. “Although we are surprised and disappointed, we will resume our head-coaching search immediately and find the right fit to lead our team and organization on and off the field.”

Indianapolis now finds itself in a coaching bind, playing catch-up at a time when the other head-coaching openings in the league have been filled.

During the interview process, the Colts spoke with McDaniels, former Chiefs OC Matt Nagy, who accepted the Bears’ head-coaching job; former Texans DC Mike Vrabel, who accepted the Titans’ head-coaching job; former Panthers DC Steve Wilks, who accepted the Arizona Cardinals’ head-coaching job and former Seattle Seahawks DC Kris Richard, who took a defensive coaching job with the Dallas Cowboys.

There are some good candidates remaining including Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub, and Eagles assistants Jim Schwartz, Frank Reich and John DeFilippo. But GM Chris Ballard will likely take his time with the search since he’s not competing with anyone now. Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable and Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier are other potential candidates.

The Colts announced this morning that GM Chris Ballard will hold a press conference at 11am to discuss further details.

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