It was in doubt there for a while. During Super Bowl week the molten lava take was that Josh McDaniels was about to leave the Colts at the altar, stay in Foxboro and take over for a retiring Bill Belichick, eventually if not immediately. But in a moment of normalcy that is rare for the Patriots over the past six months, everything went off as planned.
For McDaniels, this is the all-important Second Chance. Which with the rare exception of a Pete Carroll is all you get. And even Carroll had to go to USC, win National Championships and mass produce Heisman Trophy winners to get the rare third chance. It’s not in dispute that McDaniels’ first shot in Denver was a genocide of bad. He was in over his head. Faced an insurrection from Jay Cutler and pre-diagnosis Brandon Marshall. Tried to do Belichick’s act with the media without Belichick’s credentials. And had to spend the last seven seasons earning another shot.
As for this particular shot, the most important boxes to check are quarterback and ownership. McDaniels inherits Andrew Luck, who’s health seems to be anybody’s guess. And Jacoby Brissett, who knows his system but who also got dumped mid-season for Phillip Dorsett, so who knows what McDaniels’ opinion of him is. Regardless, that QB situation is better than 2/3 of the teams in football. As far as ownership, Jim Irsay might be a pill-popping buffoon, the lesser son of a much more capable man and have dead mistresses in his past. But at least he won’t be selling the team ever. So there’s thats.
For the Patriots, this is standard operating procedure. They are and always have been to football coaches and executives what puppy mills are to the pet store industry. They are where you go to buy the purebreds. And also evil and hated by everyone until you want to own the very best. In the Bradichick Dynasty they’ve lost Charlie Weis, McDaniels, Bill O’Brien and now McDaniels again to other programs. And the offense they’ve run – the Erhardt-Perkins system that actually traces its origin back to the Chuck Fairbanks’ Patriots of the early ’70s – has continued to evolve and produce through all the changes.
In all likelihood, the guy who’s been groomed to run the McOffense (Mental note: Come up with a new name) will be Chad O’Shea, who’s been coaching the wide receivers since 2009 but has also been an offensive and special teams assistant for the Vikings, Chiefs, Southern Mississippi and U. of Houston for over 20 years. And he’s still only 45. So he seems the perfect choice to Next Man Up for McDaniels.
For the Colts, this is yet another team trying to successfully graft Belchick’s DNA onto franchise/program in hopes it cures all their ills. Just another bunch of lesser football minds admitting they don’t have the answers. So they put their faith a man they called a cheater and a liar. A few years ago they claimed Josh McDaniels’ success was all based on his quarterback illegally tampering with equipment. Now, in their desperation, they turn to a man they did not fully understand. It’s funny how quick people are to forget all those phony accusations and all that hatred when it comes down to winning and losing.
Which is to say, not everybody. Because some of the Indy media will never forget. Here’s a taste of what McDaniels has waiting for him:
We want McDaniels.
And I’m just like … why? …
Josh McDaniels, whose tenure in Denver was so toxic, he clashed with players who worked closest with him (quarterback Jay Cutler, receiver Brandon Marshall, tight end Tony Scheffler) and one coach (that we know of, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan) and left this impression on punter Mitch Berger:
“I felt like I was playing for an equipment manager or something – he was like a little punk …” Berger said of McDaniels. “As soon as I had a game that wasn’t up to his standards, he wouldn’t talk to you or look at you. I never played for a guy in my life who guys wanted to play for less. He was just a guy you didn’t care about.”
McDaniels went 11-17 and was fired during his second season in Denver, a week after the NFL fined McDaniels after one of his staffers was caught illegally video-taping an opponent. Neither the NFL nor the Broncos could determine that McDaniels ordered the taping, but if we’re not going to give Belichick the benefit of the doubt on all the cheating that happens under his watch, let’s not give the benefit of the doubt to McDaniels just because he’s about to take over the Colts.
And I still can’t believe this is happening. Can’t believe McDaniels will soon be hired by the Colts, and entrusted with Andrew Luck. Can’t believe he was the hottest commodity on the coaching market this fall.
On behalf of Patriots fans everywhere, I’ll say thanks to Josh McDaniels. And also good luck. He’s going to need it.