CLEVELAND (AP) — Josh McDaniels’ second chance as an NFL head coach won’t be with the Browns.
McDaniels, labeled a favorite to take over in Cleveland, removed himself from consideration for the Browns’ opening Wednesday, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. McDaniels pulled his name after learning he was not the front-runner for the job, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
ESPN first reported McDaniels’ withdrawal.
McDaniels interviewed with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner last weekend, when the Patriots had a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. McDaniels, fired as Denver’s coach in 2010 after 28 games, confirmed he met with the Browns but did not elaborate on the interview and said "I’m fortunate to have the job I have and I love being here. I love doing what I’m doing."
NFL rules prohibited the Browns from offering their job to McDaniels, a Canton, Ohio, native — or any other coach in the playoffs — until their respective season ends.
As McDaniels was removed from their list, the Browns interviewed Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, a person familiar with the meeting told the AP.
McAdoo, who emerged as a surprise candidate in recent days, met with Browns officials Wednesday in Green Bay, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not publicizing information about the search. The 36-year-old McAdoo spent the past two seasons working with star QB Aaron Rodgers.
The Browns’ search is in its second week after Haslam and Banner fired first-year coach Rob Chudzinski following a 4-12 season.
McAdoo received strong endorsements form Rodgers and Packers coach Mike McCarthy.
Although McAdoo’s resume isn’t lengthy, it’s extensive enough to entice the Browns, and Rodgers said his position coach is a deserving candidate.
"You can’t help but respect Ben the more time you spend with him, because he really cares about his job," Rodgers said on a weekly radio appearance in Milwaukee. "He listens when you talk, he asks good questions. I’m happy for Ben. Any opportunities he gets he deserves. He’s a guy that works extremely hard. He’s a guy who really puts the time in."
McCarthy, too, believes McAdoo is qualified to move up the coaching ranks.
"He’s prepared himself for opportunities potentially that are out there," McCarthy said. "I think the world of Ben, I’ve been with Ben a long time, and seen him diligently prepare himself to move forward. So whatever opportunities that do come by, he’ll do a phenomenal job."
Looking "to get it right" as they seek the franchise’s seventh full-time coach in 15 years, Haslam and Banner have also interviewed Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
Like McDaniels, Quinn met with the Browns while the Seahawks were off, and the 43-year-old relished the chance to discuss his football vision. He’s also a candidate in Minnesota and Tennessee.
"It was an experience to go through something and I was fired up to do," he said. "It was nice it happened during a time that we were down. I was more fired up to have that chance, but now it’s back to it and getting a chance to talking about the game and moving forward. It was a good experience but we’re ready to rock here moving forward."
Seattle hosts New Orleans on Saturday.
Cleveland requested permission to interview Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, but he declined until the Broncos’ season is finished. Denver hosts San Diego on Sunday.
The Browns are also reportedly interested in speaking with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, who has revived the Commodores and led them to consecutive nine-win seasons.