Josh McDaniels took a lot of heat last month when he spurned the Colts to return to the Patriots a day before Indy was set to announce him as its next head coach.
This week, McDaniels, the New England offensive coordinator, finally explained what occurred over those crazy two days in early February in an interview with the Boston Globe. And his decision apparently came down to Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft explaining their plans for the future.
McDaniels agreed to terms on a contract with the Colts, then returned to Foxborough two days after the Pats’ Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles to pack up the rest of his stuff. That was Tuesday, Feb. 6. Early in the day, the Colts' official Twitter account announced McDaniels as their next head coach. But by 7:30 p.m., McDaniel had backed out of his agreement. The Wednesday press conference was canceled as Indy was forced to release a statement.
During what would have been his final visit to the Patriots’ facility, McDaniels changed his mind after discussions with Kraft and Belichick.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure what the future was. I just hadn’t had any clarity on that," McDaniels told the Globe 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," McDaniels said.
According to the Globe, McDaniels was not guaranteed any future positions, like, say, head coach after Belichick retires. But he did have his contract altered. McDaniels entered the offseason with one year remaining on his deal.
“The opportunity to stay here and work for who I think is the greatest owner in sports and the best head football coach in the history of our game, to work with the best quarterback that has ever played ... Look, I’m privileged to have the opportunity to do that and 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?’ McDaniels said. “And certainly it was difficult. But I made the decision on my own, nobody pushed me into it.”
McDaniels was criticized vehemently by fans and media because he had already signed assistant coaches to contracts in Indianapolis before he backed out. Those coaches had left their previous jobs — potentially angering people on the way out — but now were stuck in a situation they had most certainly not expected.
McDaniels says he apologized to both Colts GM Chris Ballard and the assistant coaches he screwed over, commending their professionalism.
“Chris was tremendous the whole entire time," McDaniels said. “He’s an incredible human being. He’s great at what he does. He’s going to be successful. It was difficult. I had a friendship with him — I still do. ... He’s a guy that I have a lot of respect for and admiration for. He was a big reason why I was interested in that job in the first place. It was as difficult a decision as I’ve ever made professionally. He handled it extremely well, he was a complete professional about it."
“I spoke to all of (the assistant coaches) that night right away, shortly after I talked to Chris," McDaniels added. “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.
“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. 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."