Josh McDaniels’ shocking decision leaves Indy up a creek with no paddle

Andrew Luck

In an 11th-hour move, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels spurned the Indianapolis Colts, opting to return to the Pats. While no contract was signed, it was all but assumed that McDaniels would head to Indianapolis as soon as New England’s season ended. Obviously, that is not the case.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted that Robert Kraft gave McDaniels a hefty raise. Still, it’s highly unlikely that he’s making anywhere near as much there as he would as a head coach.

Anything at this point is pure speculation. But two strong possibilities can’t be ignored.

One, McDaniels has information that Bill Belichick will be leaving New England soon. Chances are, it won’t be as soon as the 2018 season, but it’s possible. What’s more possible is that McDaniels has a sense that Belichick will step away after the 2018 or maybe 2019 season. Then, especially with Matt Patricia now in Detroit, McDaniels would be far and away the most logical replacement.

If you’re a Colts fan, you should be hoping very strongly that this is the case. Because if McDaniels just decided against coaching the Colts without a strong sense that the Pats’ job awaits him 1-2 years, it means your organization is in a world of trouble.

Option 1: He didn’t want to coach because he didn’t like the front office.

This is an awfully hard problem to overcome. We’ve seen it with organizations like the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. The players and coaches can change. But when there’s no reason to believe in those making the decisions, your team is never going to be that good.

Option 2: He doesn’t believe that Andrew Luck will be healthy (or back at all) in 2018.

This is another problem that has consistently plagued teams like the Jets and Browns. No quarterback. The Colts, by and large, haven’t had this issue for the last 20 years. But Luck missed a good portion of 2015, played hurt in 2016, and missed all of 2017. None of those campaigns produced winning seasons. This came directly on the heels of making the playoffs in three straight years with Luck under center.

Maybe this is a reach. But McDaniels would not be the first coach to opt away from the Colts this season for that reason.

Now, regardless of why McDaniels chose against going to Indianapolis, everyone with the Colts has to be asking a simple question. Who will coach the team now?

It’s a fair one given that every other coaching vacancy has been filled.

One possibility that has been brought up would be Kansas City Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub.

Two other people should be on the radar, if they aren’t already. Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, and Philadelphia quarterback coach John DeFilippo.

Given that the presumed coach was McDaniels, it’s safe to say that the Colts were looking for an offensive guy. Both Reich and DeFilippo fit that description.

Whatever happens next, this is a less than ideal situation for Indianapolis. Coming off of a 4-12 season and with many of the wounds from the Ryan Grigson era still showing, the Colts were in a big enough hole. Now, that hole is even bigger.