On Wednesday came the news that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has withdrawn his name from consideration for the head-coaching job in Cleveland, four days after interviewing for the job.
It’s unusual, to say the least, for a coaching candidate to go through the process of interviewing for a job and then to remove his name only a few days later, before finding out whether he’s even going to get an offer. For a guy like McDaniels, who presumably will want to be a head coach somewhere at some point, it’s the kind of move that at a minimum will give other owners a bit of hesitation when it comes to including McDaniels in future coaching searches.
So why did McDaniels feel compelled to affirmatively pull him name out of the hat in lieu of letting nature take its course?
In the aftermath of the news that McDaniels said “no” before hearing “yes,” Albert Breer of NFL Network reported that McDaniels opted to create “stability for his family,” because he has four young children and a secure position with the Patriots.
It’s an honorable motivation, but if that’s the case, why interview for the job in the first place? And if the goal was simply to get more experience interviewing, why pull the plug on the process prematurely?
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer later reported that McDaniels withdrew after asking the Browns if he’s the top candidate and being told that he’s not. If true, that’s not a great look for McDaniels, which could make other owners even more skittish about adding him in the future to a game where the supply of candidates far outweighs the eventual demand.
More recently, Adam Schefter of ESPN — who broke the news of McDaniels withdrawing his name — offered additional information about the situation that conflicts sharply with Cabot’s report: “Browns-McDaniels never started negotiations. Browns never said he was or wasn’t front runner. McDaniels never said he was leaning one way.”
Setting aside the possibility that Schefter is merely repeating what he was told as a quid pro quo for the scoop regarding McDaniels withdrawing his name (because that never happens in this business), the new information doesn’t explain why McDaniels would decide to affirmatively remove his name from consideration.
As Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan currently is learning, unconventional doesn’t sell. Owners like guys who don’t make too many waves, and McDaniels on Wednesday did a cannonball into the shallow end of the pool.
Regardless of where it all goes from here, McDaniels can count on any future head-coaching interviews beginning with this question: “So, Josh, what really happened in Cleveland?”