In a dramatic change of heart that could signal a succession plan for Bill Belichick’s eventual retirement, Josh McDaniels decided not to accept the Colts’ head-coaching job hours after agreeing to take the position.
The Colts had announced Tuesday afternoon that McDaniels would take the job left vacant after the firing of Chuck Pagano. But ESPN reported Tuesday night that McDaniels has decided instead to remain with the Patriots.
The Colts confirmed that McDaniels backed out of the deal Tuesday evening after agreeing to terms. In a statement, the team said: “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.”
McDaniels’ decision was reminiscent of Belichick’s backing out of the Jets’ head-coaching job in 2000. Bill Parcells had stepped down as coach after the 1999 season to become general manager and appointed Belichick to succeed him. But Belichick announced at a news conference that he had decided not to take the job. Before it, he scribbled on a napkin, “I, BB, resign as HC of the NYJ.”
Belichick indicated in recent weeks that he plans to return as the Patriots’ coach for the 2018 season. Although Patriots officials haven’t commented on any succession plan, owner Robert Kraft may have decided that McDaniels is best suited to become Belichick’s replacement once Belichick does step down.
Belichick was asked after the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to the Eagles in Sunday’s Super Bowl about whether he plans to coach in 2018, and he declined to address anything but the game itself.
Belichick has come under criticism for not using starting cornerback Malcolm Butler on defense in the Super Bowl. Belichick said the decision wasn’t related to any disciplinary issues, but was instead because of game-plan specific reasons. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles turned in a magnificent performance against the Patriots, throwing three touchdown passes and even catching another on a trick play. He was selected as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
McDaniels interviewed with the Giants, Colts and Bears after the regular season, and he appeared ticketed for the Colts’ job once the Giants had turned to Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and the Bears hired Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.
There is some uncertainty attached to the Colts’ job because of quarterback Andrew Luck’s health. The former No. 1 overall pick missed the 2017 season after undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder. While the team is optimistic he can return for next season, there are no guarantees.
McDaniels, 41, was hired as the Broncos’ coach in 2009 and got off to a 6-0 start that included an upset of Belichick’s Patriots. But he skidded to an 8-8 record, then went 3-9 in 2010 before being fired. After spending 2011 as the Rams’ offensive coordinator, he returned to the Patriots in 2012 and has run their offense ever since. The Patriots have been to the Super Bowl three times in that span, winning twice.