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Josh McDaniels, Coaching SUPERPROSPECT

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Nov 27, 2010; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels speaks during a press conference regarding the violation of integrity of game policy at Broncos Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
Nov 27, 2010; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels speaks during a press conference regarding the violation of integrity of game policy at Broncos Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

I know in itself the issue is too trivial to merit one and a third posts — not that this has ever stopped a good LGMer before — but since media sycophancy has always been within our bailiwick this I can’t resist the high comedy of this Peter King beaut CF dug up. 

Evidently, there will be some redundancies between my points and his:

Seven job openings. Seven go to offensive coaches. Josh McDaniels has been the offensive coordinator for the Patriots for the past four years. Over that four-year period, New England is the highest-scoring team in football (30.22 points per regular-season game). Josh McDaniels didn’t get an interview.

The Patriots have a great offense, and I would never say that McDaniels doesn’t deserve any credit for that. At the same time, they had a great offense before he got there and they had a great offense during the time he left and they still have a great offense now. In addition, when McDaniels was coordinator in St. Louis he presided over by far the worst offense in the NFL. Admittedly, he didn’t exactly have the ’89 49ers to work with, but they declined substantially, and while you might have expected Sam Bradford to improve in his sophomore year he was terrible even by Sam Bradford standards. It seems like this really is worth mentioning when you’re wondering why nobody wants to turn your team over to him.

McDaniels went 11-17 in his only NFL head-coaching trial. Then he went into coach purgatory for a year and a half. Then he took over as Patriots offensive coordinator, and made whatever contributions he made to the team with the most wins in football (54 regular-season and postseason wins) since 2012.

Uh, it seems you’re yadda-yadding the utter trainwreck that was McDaniels’s tenure in Denver rather too quickly. I mean, when you give a hotshot coordinator a head coaching job with de facto personnel control and he combines Chip Kelly’s personnel acumen with Bobby Petrino’s interpersonal and leadership skills, wouldn’t that give you considerable pause about giving him another head coaching job? He was very young and I’m not saying it’s impossible that he’s matured, but you can’t just dismiss it in a sentence and then go back to discussing how miraculous it is that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s offense has been very effective with him as the OC, just as it was when noted head coaching SUPERGENIUS Charlie Weis was the OC.

There are numerous examples of the relationship between McDaniels and Brady, and between McDaniels and Bill Belichick. See the bro hugs between Brady and McDaniels after Brady’s quarterback sneak for touchdown Saturday night? Did you watch the NFL Films special last spring, with Belichick talking about McDaniels’ ideas? The mutual respect in both relationships is obvious. Read about it in my column eight days after the last Super Bowl win.

I should pause here and note that to my considerable misery that McDaniels’s playcalling in the most recent Super Bowl really was a marvel of elegance and discipline. At least in the context of Belichick’s system — a massive qualifier — he is very good at his current job, and I wouldn’t deny that. Norv Turner is a real good offensive coordinator too; that doesn’t mean you want him as your head coach. And McDaniels’s record as a head coach makes Norv look like Tom Landry.

Belichick after the 27-20 win over Kansas City: “I thought Josh [McDaniels] and the offensive staff did a tremendous job this week game-planning and play-calling. Josh was magnificent. I thought he really had everything dialed in. Pretty much everything he called, it came out the way we thought it would. As we were breaking the huddle, we could already see we had what we wanted, and Tom and the offense executed it perfectly.”

Again, I’m not denying that he’s doing a good job, but what the hell else is Belichick going to say? “Josh was just terrible today. 27 points against a team with that feeble pass rush? Christ, if Andy hadn’t followed his usual plan of distributing a cocktail of Ambien and Tito’s Vodka personally prepared by Rick Perry to his offensive players and most assuredly himself as soon as the clock hit the three-minute mark of the 4th quarter, we could have been in real trouble. And calling that pass after the onside kick that was very nearly a pick-6 was almost as dumb as when Darrell Bevell graciously handed me a Super Bowl.” Does King have some examples of head coaches ripping their coordinators after a playoff win?

I’m not saying Mike Mularkey (18-39 as a head coach) absolutely shouldn’t get the Titans job. I’m just saying you’re the last team standing and you don’t interview everyone available who might be a strong candidate to coach Marcus Mariota for the next X number of years? You have a former Patriots scout, Jon Robinson, as the new GM and you don’t even allow him to interview to his strength?

Umm, if someone with a tight connection to the Patriots would rather recycle Mike Mularkey than even give McDaniels an interview, what does that tell you? This is being cited in his favor?

And there’s a final elephant in the room King doesn’t bring up, which is the lack of success of Belichick’s coaching tree. Again, I’m not saying that it’s inevitable that his assistants would fail, and I’d certainly be interested in interviewing Matt Patricia for a head coaching job. But when you hire a Belichick assistant you often seem to end up with a ramped-up, less professional version of Belichick’s dour authoritarianism without his ganeplanning and tactical genius. Nate Jackson’s account of having to play for Eric Magnini is priceless, and his description of his brief account with McDaniels in Slow Getting Up — in which McDaniels meets him, spouts random cliches without making eye contact, and then cuts him without even bring willing to take or return his phone call — is also instructive.

I agree with CF that McDaniels has shown enough to deserve a gig as a non-Belichick OC, and maybe he’s grown enough to be a decent head coach. But the media campaign to make him a top coaching prospect that persists even though teams are passing him over without interview for people that don’t even have overpowering credentials as coordinators is an object illustration of what happens when journalists are dependent on particular sources.

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