Josh McDaniels has rebuilt his stock on the NFL head coaching market, and here are five teams that should hire him.
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Over the last five seasons back with the New England Patriots, as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Josh McDaniels has rebuilt his reputation as an NFL head coaching candidate. The Tennessee Titans looked like a good potential fit around a year ago, with general manager Jon Robinson coming from the Patriots’ organization, but Mike Mularkey was kept as Titans’ head coach.
Pro Football Talk recently reported on this year’s preliminary list of candidates compiled by the NFL’s Career Development Advisory Panel. One notable omission from the list of head coaching candidates was McDaniels, under the pre-conceived notion he wants to stay in New England until Bill Belichick retires. Assuming he would be Belichick’s successor, hand-picked or otherwise, is a flimsy notion. McDaniels has now of course been asked about it.
According to Tom Curran of CSN New England, McDaniels called the report he wants to wait for Belichick’s retirement “unfounded.” He also added the following definitive punch line.
“I would love to be a head coach again,”
McDaniels has been an NFL head coach before, with an 11-17 record over less than two seasons with the Denver Broncos (2009-2010). He seems sure to get another chance very soon, and here are five teams that should hire McDaniels.
5. Green Bay Packers
The Packers don’t make changes in a cavalier fashion, but a 4-6 record this season has head coach Mike McCarthy firmly on the hot seat. A lot has been made about the possible bad relationship between McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers recently, which may simply be getting stale in their ninth season together.
Green Bay’s issues are rooted on the defensive side of the ball right now, due mostly to injuries that have thinned depth. But McCarthy’s play-calling offensively has lacked imagination, and Rodgers has not been able to bail things out with fantastic plays “off-schedule” in the way he has previously.
Having a new coaching voice could easily revive Rodgers, as he enters a slow downturn in his physical tools. McDaniels is young (40), and his experience working with Tom Brady would benefit him in a new relationship with Rodgers.
The Bears are going nowhere fast this season, with injuries, suspensions and general ineptitude sure to yield a top-five pick in next spring’s draft. Head coach John Fox may not be in danger of being fired, in the midst of just his second season with the team, but there’s nothing on his coaching resume that suggests he can help engineer a quick rebuild in Chicago.
The Bears are sure to part with quarterback Jay Cutler before next season. They already reportedly have their eye on University of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya for the 2017 draft. McDaniels would surely be able to help cultivate a young quarterback, and he would presumably have some input to offer regarding Kaaya or any other draft-eligible signal caller.
The Bears have to be headed for a full-scale rebuild of the roster, likely as soon as next offseason. A veteran coach like Fox would probably have little or no interest in taking part in that kind of project, assuming he would be open about that sentiment. On the other hand, McDaniels would lend credibility to the process, bring a fresh voice from the head coach’s chair and ideally help foster a quick turnaround on the field.
Marvin Lewis has had a nice run as Bengals’ head coach, especially in light of the futility that preceded him, with five straight playoff appearances. But a 3-6-1 record right now has that streak of playoff appearances in serious jeopardy, and injuries to key offensive players A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard will make a turnaround even harder to pull off.
Notably frugal Bengals’ owner Mike Brown may not want to fire Lewis, and then pay him not to work next season. But a three-year run of giving Lewis one-year contract extensions to avoid having him be a lame-duck coach has proven tedious, and pointless all things considered.
Going back at least a couple years, Lewis as not avoided being mentioned as a coach that could be fired if the Bengals did not finally win a playoff game with him at the helm. That lack of postseason success will probably not be a factor this year, so Lewis could simply be let go after a surprisingly bad season.
At talent-laden roster in Cincinnati makes it an appealing spot for McDaniels, or any possible head coaching candidate. A quick rebound back to playoff contention would clearly be in the cards for 2017, assuming an unlikely reversal doesn’t happen this year.
With a 14-44 record into his fourth season as Jaguars’ head coach, including a 2-8 mark so far this season, Gus Bradley simply can’t keep his job after the season. The possibility of an in-season firing lingered for a while, based on preseason expectations of improvement to come in Jacksonville this year, but at this point Bradley is at least safe until “Black Monday.”
After a breakout, if partially garbage-time driven, season in 2015 (4,428 passing yards, 35 touchdown passes), Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles has notably regressed this season. He has continued to start, due to lack of better options, but things have been so bad that Bortles called in an outside consultant to work on his mechanics a few weeks ago. If nothing else, Bortles’ perceived need for outside help is a major demerit on Jacksonville’s current coaching staff.
Getting better play out of Bortles more consistently, and keeping him at a theoretical high level of play once he gets to that point, has to be top priority for the Jaguars until further notice. That effort has to start with the coaching staff, and Bradley is ill-equipped to do it or hire an offensive coordinator who can. McDaniels could be the man to unlock Bortles’ full potential, if he wants to try.
Speaking of teams with a young quarterback paired with a coaching staff that is not equipped to get the most out of him, I give you the Rams and Jeff Fisher. The decision not to play rookie Jared Goff was at best mysterious, with a flimsy commitment to Case Keenum, then things turned the other way seemingly overnight last week.
Goff did not look great in his first start against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday (17-for-31 for 134 yards), but he also attempted just five passes that traveled 10 or more yards downfield. That latter bit points to an extremely conservative game plan, which on its own wouldn’t be bad. But that kind of thing has marked Fisher’s tenure with the Rams, yielding annual 7-9 records and bad offenses every year.
Just how much Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke is paying attention to the on-field product is unclear, since he got his desired move to Los Angeles and ground has now broken on a fancy new stadium. But logic says Fisher should not keep his job beyond this season, and McDaniels can put Goff’s development on the right track.