The NFL’s owners considered on Tuesday a so-called Josh McDaniels rule, which would allow teams to hire as head coaches assistant coaches from other teams before those teams have concluded a playoff run. The owners decided to consider the proposal again in the future.
The rule has been tabled until the May meeting, which often becomes a graceful way of killing a proposal.
Colts G.M. Chris Ballard, whose team was directly impacted by McDaniels’ decision not to sign a contract to which he had unofficially agreed before his current team, the Patriots, played in Super Bowl LII, was opposed to the rule change.
“When you’re a playoff team, you’re trying to eliminate all the distractions that you can,” Ballard said Tuesday, via the Indianapolis Star. “And we’re going to be a playoff team and we’re going to have these issues. It becomes a slippery slope. We have rules in place for a reason. I think they’re good rules. It gives you a chance to interview and then, after the season, whatever happens, happens. In our case, he changed his mind and we moved on.”
Appearing on PFT Live, Ballard expressed relief that McDaniels opted not to follow through on the tentative decision to take the Colts job; basically, Ballard believes it was better that someone who wasn’t truly all in realize it now and not a year or a month or even a day after signing the contract. If teams were permitted to harvest a signature before a candidate’s playoff run ends, the candidate possibly wouldn’t realize that he’s not fully committed to the job until it’s too late.
Of course, having the moment of clarity that comes from having pen to paper come sooner than later could force a guy who isn’t all in to say so before, for example, staff members are hired under the assumption that the candidate will take the job. To get to that point, however, a franchise that is singularly focused on the task at hand of preparing for and winning playoff games will necessarily be forced to act, at the risk of creating distractions and disruptions.
Given that the league is constantly concerned about the unintended consequences of any and all changes, this one could end up creating plenty of messes for organizations that try to convince an assistant coach to not leave — especially if the efforts to get him not to leave fail.