Well, the Bears just hired former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, which brings the potential landing spots for McDaniels down to two- or three if you count him remaining with the Patriots.
So which team is going to land McDaniels and who is he competing against for the top job?
The Colts apparently were “all in” on hiring Nagy, too, so they’re going to have to sign their silver medal choice- which makes me wonder if McDaniels would want to be a team’s second choice. Still, Colts general manager Chris Ballard came over from the Chiefs, so it makes sense that his familiarity with Nagy would push him to the top of the list.
McDaniels is going against Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard, and Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. I’m surprised that Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub isn’t on the list, but more on that at the end.
What stands out is that while the Colts really wanted Nagy, their outstanding candidates are very heavy on the defensive side of the ball. The Colts were a mess on both sides of the ball under Chucak Pagano, finishing above-average on offense just three times and on defense just once in his six seasons, so it’s not like they really need help on just one side of the ball.
I would think the Colts would want a head coach that could pair with and maximize the abilities of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck and McDaniels best fits that requisite. But Ballard has a blueprint of the type of head coach he’s looking to hire and wants someone that can lead the room, develop players and staff, and is a good partner.
The Colts have invested serious resources into their defense, including their first three draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft and a large chunk of their free agents signings like John Simon, Jabaal Sheard, and Jonathan Hankins. Perhaps they’ll want a defensive-minded coach that can ensure they grow as a unit and can rely on that coach finding someone to work with Luck on offense.
But because the Colts need help on both sides of the ball, I think Toub is a dark horse selection and his omission in news reports is intentional. The fact that the Colts wanted Nagy points to Ballard’s connection with the Chiefs and Toub is a natural back-up option.
Toub was the special teams coordinator for the Chicago Bears from 2004-12 and, guess what, Ballard was a scout and director of pro scouting for the Bears from 2001-12. Ballard was named director of player personnel for the Chiefs in 2013 and, guess what, Toub became the Chiefs special teams coordinator in 2013. Toub makes sense.
New York Giants
The Giants have been incredibly busy in their pursuit of a head coach and they’ve turned over every stone. They’ve interviewed or plan on interviewing interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo, McDaniels and Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Denver Broncos assistant head coach and running backs Eric Studesville, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.
The Giants won’t interview Schwartz until the end of the Eagles’ season, so he could be towards the bottom of their list.
According to Giants owner John Mara, the Giants want someone with head-coaching experience or was a long-time coordinator. They’re not looking for one of those rising star candidates, but someone that comes with more experience atop a franchise.
Spaguolo was the head coach of the St. Louis Rams from 2009-11 and the interim head coach of the Giants for the end of 2017. McDaniels was the head coach of the Broncos from 2009-10. Schwartz was the head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2009-13. Studesville was the interim head coach of the Broncos in 2010 and the assistant head coach in 2017. Shurmur was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2011-12 and the interim head coach of the Eagles in 2015. Wilks has been the assistant head coach of the Panthers since 2015.
That leaves Matt Patricia as the only candidate without head coaching experience and he’s likely to join the Detroit Lions.
SB Nation’s Giants site Big Blue View thinks the job will come down to Pat Shurmur or Steve Wilks because of Shurmur’s work with Case Keenum in 2017 and Wilks’ time with current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman; Gettleman was the Panthers general manager from 2013-16 where Wilks served as assistant head coach.
I think McDaniels has a good chance of getting this job, if he wants it, but there’s a really strong argument to be made for Wilks. It should come down to those two, in my mind.
And running this exercise leads me to believe that there’s a solid chance that McDaniels returns to the Patriots in 2018.