Josh McDaniels burned the Colts, which everyone agrees is a bad look but could be a blessing in disguise.
Despite the Twitter wars that are erupting over Josh McDaniels decision to back out of his deal with the Indianapolis Colts at the last minute, no one actually thinks it was ethical. No one, even McDaniels probably, believes that it’s a good look or something that doesn’t deserve scorn.
It’s not, however, the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of football. It’s even the first time a head coach has backed out of the job in the eleventh hour. McDaniels made a decision he felt was the best for his future — and his future alone — and that’s what happened. It’s selfish, it’s cowardly, but it’s the right move for him.
For the Colts, it’s a blessing in disguise.
If McDaniels was so on the fence about coming to Indianapolis that he was willing to put the egg on his face himself while backing out, fans shouldn’t be too bent out of shape about his decision. The Colts deserve better than a guy who will pull their chain for a few weeks, uproot families, and then back out to do right by himself. Forget McDaniels, he probably wasn’t even going to be that great of a head coach in Indy.
Look at the track record he has. Not only did he flame out hard in Denver but he hasn’t proven to be versatile in New England. The Patriots are a system team, where the players are parts and the franchise is a machine. Parts can be swapped out and won’t work with other teams. McDaniels is one of those parts and proved in Denver he’s scrap metal with some shine.
When in the Patriots system, however, McDaniels is one of the best offensive coordinators in football. That’s partly because he’s in his element and partly because he has one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history executing his schemes.
One of the perks of hiring McDaniels was his development of Andrew Luck. The idea was Luck would become Tom Brady and realize his full potential as a franchise quarterback. But a quick look at McDaniels track record shows that someone like Matt LaFleur, John DeFillipo, and Frank Reich are much more qualified.
In his last few seasons of coaching, LaFleur (who is the new Titans offensive coordinator) was the quarterback coach during Robert Griffin III’s only good season, the quarterback coach for Matt Ryan’s MVP season, and the offensive coordinator for Jared Goff’s first good season. DeFillipo was the quarterback coach in a year Mark Sanchez took a team to the AFC Championship Game and laid the groundwork for Derek Carr’s career in his rookie season. Reich has worked with Peyton Manning and Philip River, and used that to develop Carson Wentz and win a Super Bowl with Nick Foles.
That’s what a quarterback whisperer looks like; McDaniels isn’t so much a quarterback whisperer as he is a guy who whispers to a really good quarterback. He ran Jay Cutler out of Denver, drafted Tim Tebow, and cycled through Sam Bradford and A.J. Feely in St. Louis. A good quarterback coach would know how to work with those guys or find someone who can do the job for them.
Indianapolis shouldn’t be a laughing stock because a guy backed out of a job. It’s not their fault, and this could end up being a case where they avoided disaster. McDaniels is a sexy name, but now the Colts can go out and hire the right guy for the job.