On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ search for a new head coach came to an end: the team agreed to terms with Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who beat out multiple competitors for the vacant position. Among those coming up short against Stefanski was New England Patriots offensive signal caller Josh McDaniels, who is now expected to return to the team for which he has coached for the last eight seasons.
As more information is starting to come out of Cleveland, one can see why a McDaniels-Browns union did not materialize: the two simply did not match based on what the team was looking for in its new head coach. While the long-time Patriots assistant likely would have preferred a proactive role in roster construction and by extension considerable power within the organization, the Browns wanted to take a different approach.
According to Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository, owner Jimmy Haslam and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta wanted to add “an analytics person with a headset and access to the coaching staff on game days [and] hours-long, Monday-after, owner-coach meetings” among other requirements. Furthermore, per 92.3 The Fan’s Dustin Fox, the new head coach was also required to “turn in game plans to the owner and analytics department by Friday, and to also attend an end-of-week analytics meeting to discuss their plan.”
McDaniels having a different opinion about the involvement of ownership and DePodesta’s department would not be surprising. After all, the 43-year-old spent most of his coaching career in New England where Bill Belichick controls everything: the head coach serves as a de facto general manager and has final say over the roster and how the football staff is organized — a power McDaniels would not have had in Cleveland without some major structural changes.
The Browns did not want to do that and decided to go in another direction and with a candidate that already was a finalist one year ago before eventually returning to Minnesota. It remains to be seen whether or Cleveland’s analytics-based approach and present structure will work out with Stefanski as head coach, but one thing is certain: it paved the way for McDaniels to return to New England — something the AFC East champions should feel good about.