The Josh McDaniels saga is taking a precedent when it really shouldn't. This game should be about the players, and this story has nothing to do with "cheating."
The Patriots' decision to re-hire Josh McDaniels in the middle of the 2011 postseason was a bit unconventional, I'll give you that. But when the Patriots hired McDaniels over the weekend, they had no idea that he would be facing his former team in the Denver Broncos.
Nonetheless, multiple media outlets are complaining (rather whining) about the Patriots' decision to re-hire McDaniels. For example, Mike Klis of the Denver Post said on Saturday that Bill Belichick has once again found a way to "cheat the system" and that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should step in and stop the move:
Once again, Bill Belichick has figured out a way to cheat the system. And once again, he caught the NFL standing there sucking their collective thumbs.
This is the 2011 season. McDaniels finished the 2011 season as the Rams' offensive coordinator. He got his chance to contribute this year. His Rams scored an embarrassing 12.1 points per game, making them easily the league's lowest scoring offense. His season should be finished.
People around here and St. Louis might not think much of McDaniels' coaching ability. But I'm telling you this is a smart football coach. This is a talented person. He may not be a leader of men, but he is good enough as a coach/talent evaluator to give the Pats a decided competitive advantage against the Broncos, if it should come to that.
All the Pats have to do is hire away Steve Scarnecchia from Syracuse and the whole cheating gang gets back together. Come on, Mr. Goodell. Exercise those commissioner power and put a stop to this.
Really? Cheating? Is that what the Patriots are doing here? As the NFL has said, there's no rule against hiring a coach in the postseason. Any NFL team can make any coaching transaction they please in the middle of a season. Should the NFL prevent teams from hiring their head coach mid-season or bringing in an outside consultant?
Only allowing teams eliminated from the postseason to make coaching changes would be giving those teams a competitive advantage, wouldn't it? If what Klis is saying is true, then no NFL team should be allowed to make a single coaching change until the end of the 2011 league year... which is in March (or at least until after the Super Bowl). Why should Josh McDaniels be prevented from going to the Patriots, but instead be hired by a non-playoff team as the head coach (he could have been a candidate for the Chiefs' coaching vacancy, for example)? Accord to Klis' argument, teams in the playoffs shouldn't allowed to be make a coaching hires as well?
More of my response after the jump!
Mike Klis has lost a significant amount of credibility with me with his childish anti-Patriot rant. As Tom Curran pointed out on CSNNE, the Cowboys made a similar coaching transaction back in 2009. In fact, Curran's words perfectly sum up the situation in my opinion:
So when I read the, "Not fair! Not fair" foot-stomping column written by my friend from the Denver Post, Mike Klis, whining about the Patriots hiring Josh McDaniels for the playoff run after the Rams let McDaniels out of his contract, I know it's just an instance of someone wanting a separate set of rules for 31 teams and another set or rules for the Patriots.
Exactly. As I said earlier, if the NFL wants to prevent a move such as the one the Patriots have made with McDaniels, then they need to change the hiring process for new coaches with all NFL teams. They would need to make it so that no coaching acquisitions can be made official until after the new league year or at a minimum after the Super Bowl. They would need to institute new rules and a policing system for those rules - such as what the NFL does with tampering charges in free agency.
But the reality of the situation is that putting in place such a set of rules would not only be difficult, but completely impractical. If the NFL wanted to institute a system that would prevent such a coaching transaction, then every team without a head coach or full staff would have to sit around and "suck their thumbs" while the playoff teams finished their respective seasons. There's a reason there isn't a highly policed coaching "free agency": it just wouldn't work.
So before a well respected columnist such as Mike Klis makes suggestions that the Patriots have found a way to "cheat the system," he needs to consider everything at hand. He doesn't even begin to ponder the ramifications of what he is suggesting the league does - and that, in my opinion, is inexcusable.
I'm all for having a passionate voice in sports reporting. Heck, it's the reason I began blogging six years ago. It's the reason I joined SB Nation nearly two years ago. But when you write passionately and take a stance, you have to have something to back up what you're saying.
Maybe the NFL needs to institute a system where coaches can't be hired mid-season. It may be impractical for the reasons I've outlined, but maybe it needs to be done. I wouldn't have a problem with a reporter such as Klis taking such a stance. But, as Curran said, "foot-stomping" and whining for Commissioner Goodell to stop a move because you don't like it... I can't support Klis making such an argument (regardless of whether or not I were to agree with him).
The Josh McDaniels coaching acquisition is completely within the rules. Sure, he could give the Patriots an advantage. But isn't that the entire point of coaching? What, were the Patriots going to hire a new offensive coordinator as someone who wouldn't give them an advantage? No, that's ridiculous. This is simply a shrewd move on the Patriots' part (with the timing). Any attempt to connect the Patriots' hiring of McDaniels to "cheating" is downright ridiculous. And I'm not just talking about Klis' column, I'm looking at you too Michael Silver.
To conclude: You can complain about the Josh McDaniels' hiring all you want, but to associate it with cheating is just irresponsible reporting. McDaniels will likely help the Patriots in some capacity as they take on the Broncos. But don't forget, this Patriots team is a squad that went 13-3 and beat the Broncos 41-23 just three weeks ago. It's the players that play these games, and the media shouldn't let a side-story, such as the McDaniels saga, take precedent in the week leading up to what should be a great playoff game.