KRAVITZ: Josh McDaniels finally talks, and upon further review, he’s still a weasel

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels watches from the sideline during an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Tennessee Titans in Foxborough, Mass. on Jan. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Bob Kravitz

There was a little part of me – the part that contains my ability to bear empathy – that hoped there was a really, really good reason why Josh McDaniels hosed the Indianapolis Colts. I hoped there was some pressing family issue, or something related to his kids and their schools, maybe something health-related, something or anything that might take the edge off my general feeling that McDaniels is an industrial-sized weasel.

Then I read his first public utterances since he left the Colts at the altar, words he uttered to the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride Monday.


Still a weasel.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure what (my New England) future was; I just hadn’t had any clarity on that," McDaniels told The Globe 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 (owner) Robert (Kraft) and (head coach) Bill (Belichick) on that Tuesday (when he was cleaning out his office and preparing to fly to Indianapolis), it just gave me reason to pause and consider this whole situation."

So he paused and considered.

The Patriots, who had more than a month to provide McDaniels with his much-desired clarity, bumped up his pay. And while there’s nothing on paper that guarantees he will be Belichick’s successor, it’s quite apparent there’s a handshake agreement – which isn’t something I would ever recommend with McDaniels – that he will, in fact, be Belichick’s successor. Think about it: Why else would McDaniels be staying in New England? Of course he’s going to step into Belichick’s office the moment the legendary head coach retires. This isn’t quantum physics.

I also have a hard time believing that McDaniels was entirely on board with the Colts until that last-second meeting with Kraft and Belichick. There was just too much smoke for there not to be fire; as early as Super Bowl Sunday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk was writing that McDaniels was getting cold feet and might ultimately spurn the Colts.

Here was my problem then and here is my problem now: The man – McDaniels, that is – had more than a month to get his affairs in order. He had more than a month to go to Kraft and/or Belichick and get the clarity he so desired. Look, if Kraft and Belichick weren’t willing to give him clarity during a time when everybody knew he was interviewing with the Colts, why would you want to work for those men in the first place? How much do they really value you if they’re willing to let you go through the entire process, only to wait until clean-out day to say, “Hey, we’d really like you to stay’’?

And please don’t tell me, “Well, the Patriots were so busy preparing for their post-season games, they didn’t have time to address the McDaniels’ situation." That’s a crock. How long did the Feb. 6 conversation take? An hour? Tops?

There are two issues at play here: Either Kraft and Belichick did this purposely in the hopes of gaining revenge on the Colts for Deflategate (possible – and successful), or they’re so dysfunctional, they couldn’t agree to approach McDaniels in a timely manner (also possible).

I hear Patriot Nation now: “Why would McDaniels want to join a rebuilding organization? Why would he go to a team whose quarterback has just recently started throwing real footballs? Why leave the best professional sports organization of the modern era?"

I would say this: McDaniels knew he was walking into a rebuild the day he agreed to interview with the Colts. He knew there were questions about Luck’s right shoulder when the Colts came out to Foxboro and spoke to him a second time. He knew, for more than a month, that there was a risk in leaving the game’s best team and best organization.

It wasn’t like he woke up Feb. 6, walked into his office for clean-out day and thought, “Oh my God, I’m walking into a rebuild, Luck’s right shoulder is a mess and I’m leaving New England."

It’s about one thing and one thing only: integrity. Or lack of same. Seriously, when Tony Dungy rips you and your own agent drops you as a client, that’s a you problem.

Actions have consequences, and there were a bunch after McDaniels chose to spurn the Colts.

During the process, McDaniels and Ballard hired three assistant coaches who believed they were coming to Indy to work with McDaniels, not Frank Reich or anybody else. These are men who had to uproot their own families and make the move here, three guys whose careers have taken a strange detour to a land where they’re working for a head coach they barely knew, if at all.

“I spoke to all of them (the assistant coaches) that night right away, shortly after I talked to Chris (Ballard)," McDaniels said. “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 Indy), 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 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.

“…The opportunity to stay here (in New England) 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 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?’ And certainly it was difficult. But I made the decision on my own. Nobody pushed me into it."

Maybe, in the end, McDaniels was scared. He had a disastrous tenure in Denver, and while he talked a very good game during Super Bowl week in Minneapolis, talked about being a new and improved coach and human being, maybe he got cold feet, realized he couldn’t cut it outside the New England cocoon.

We’ll never know.

What we do know is the NFL is considering a Josh McDaniels Rule – it’s not called the McDaniels Rule, but we know it was inspired by his actions -- which will allow teams to hire their head coaches while those men are involved in the post-season.

I read the whole Globe story and honestly, I hoped McDaniels would reveal some truly compelling and understandable reason for his decision to hose the Colts after they already had set up his introductory press conference.

He did not.


Still a weasel.

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