REGGIE HAYES: Embarrassed by Josh McDaniels fiasco, Indianapolis Colts could still win in long run
The easy take is to call Josh McDaniels names and blame him for one of the most unprofessional moves an NFL coach can make. And the easy take is not wrong.
But there are no clear winners and losers today in McDaniels’ decision to back out of his agreement to take over as Indianapolis Colts coach and instead stay with the New England Patriots as offensive coordinator.
The key word is today.
Someone will end up winning, and it could be McDaniels, it could be the Patriots and it could very well be the Colts. Someone will also end up losing with this deal in the long run, and I believe it’s less likely to be the Colts in that respect.
Now, if we’re talking about who’s embarrassed most by the deal, the Colts are No. 1.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard put all his efforts into landing McDaniels, passing on some other viable candidates to succeed the fired Chuck Pagano. He waited for the Patriots to get through the Super Bowl and announced the McDaniels hire Tuesday.
McDaniels, who had begun recruiting assistant coaches, agreed in principal to the terms of his deal and agreed with Ballard’s decision to announce the hiring. But McDaniels backed out Tuesday night before signing a contract.
It’s an embarrassment for the Colts, being taken for a ride by McDaniels. They’re being ridiculed, and clearly they passed over some possible prime coaching candidates in their pursuit of McDaniels. They look gullible at best.
It’s an embarrassment for McDaniels, who misled not only the Colts but the assistant coaches who signed deals with the Colts under the impression they’d be working for McDaniels. He comes off as the worst type of man – one who can’t be taken at his word.
I don’t know McDaniels’ heart, obviously. He shouldn’t take a job for which he’s not fully committed. That said, his timing is atrocious.
But let’s consider who ultimately comes out a winner in this deal.
McDaniels could win if he spends the rest of his career in New England, succeeds Bill Belichick and thrives. It seems unlikely other teams will be quick to pursue him knowing what he did to the Colts. But when Tom Brady is finished, and that time will come, the Patriots won’t be the Patriots. McDaniels could find following a legendary coach without the great quarterback a “challenge,” to say the least.
The Patriots could win if McDaniels returns with more big numbers as Brady defies Father Time and the Patriots roll on with their offensive firepower intact.
The Colts could win, however, if they end up with a quality coach. There are only 32 NFL coaching jobs. They’re coveted. The idea that the Colts can’t land a quality coach now is false. It would be quite a fun twist if they hired Frank Reich, the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator, given the Eagles just scored 41 points in beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
McDaniels could lose in the long run because he has already lost trust with everyone outside of the Patriots organization. The Colts got burned, but every other team felt their pain. Handshake deals are the norm with Super Bowl-participating coordinators. Or I should say they were the norm.
The Patriots could lose if, indeed, McDaniels eventually replaces Belichick but doesn’t turn into the quality coach he’s expected to be. He failed once with the Denver Broncos. He could fail again.
The Colts could lose if they continue to struggle and quarterback Andrew Luck never returns to his former self. Their pain would be heightened if McDaniels ends up being the next Belichick in terms of coaching “genius.”
For the Colts, the best news is embarrassment fades. Character reveals itself time after time.
Odds are in the Colts’ favor their next hire will be a coach full of commitment and a man of honor. Given what’s gone down, that would be a undisputed win.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.