BOSTON (CBS) — Josh McDaniels broke his silence on Monday, chatting with the Boston Globe about his decision to spurn the Indianapolis Colts and return to the New England Patriots.
In the days leading up to Super Bowl LII, it seemed all but certain that McDaniels would be the new head coach of the Colts. He went through two interviews with Indianapolis during New England’s postseason bye weeks and had started constructing his coaching staff. The Colts had an introductory press conference scheduled, and even started promoting “visor season” in Indianapolis.
But then that press conference never happened, and a few hours later, McDaniels surprised everyone by returning to New England. So why the change of heart?
McDaniels said everything changed two days following New England’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, when Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick made a strong push to keep him. In his meeting with the duo, Kraft and Belichick clarified McDaniels’ future role with the franchise, and also made an adjustment to his contract, according to the Globe.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure what the future was,” McDaniels said on Monday. “So, where did I fit in? Were there any plans? I just didn’t have much clarity on what my role was here moving forward. … Once I heard from Robert and Bill on that Tuesday, it just gave me reason to pause and consider this whole situation.
“When they kind of crystallized that — ‘Hey, here’s what we see going forward and here’s how we would like you to fit into it’ — it gave me a reason to stop and say, ‘All right, what’s the best decision for me?’ And certainly it was difficult,” he explained. “But I made the decision on my own, nobody pushed me into it.”
It certainly sounds like Kraft and Belchick told McDaniels he was the head-coach-in-waiting in New England. So McDaniels called Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard that Tuesday evening (just hours after he was supposed to be introduced) to break the news that he would not be leading their team. McDaniels said Ballard handled the situation professionally, and after that difficult phone call, he immediately called his would-be assistants.
“They were professionals. Like I said, it wasn’t easy for anybody. I apologized to them if it put them in an awkward position. They’re all there [in Indianapolis], which I’m very happy about. They have great opportunities, they’re great coaches, they’re great people, and I’m happy that it worked out for them in that regard,” he said.
“Again, it was never my intention to go into this and put anybody in an awkward position or do any harm to anybody or do anything to hurt anybody’s career. That certainly wasn’t a part of my thought process,” McDaniels continued. “I just felt like, once I knew the whole picture and I had the opportunity to make a decision, it was tough but I feel like I made the right one.”
Situations like this have happened in the past, but NFL owners are looking to put a stop to it. They’re hoping to pass a rule at this week’s annual owners meetings in Orlando, Florida that will allow teams to formalize contracts with coaches whose teams are still in the playoffs. The new rule is fittingly being referred to as the “McDaniels Rule.”