Making Sense of Josh McDaniels/Cleveland Browns Rumors


Oct 27, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels looks on against the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

When the Browns fired Rob Chudzinski after only 1 year one thought was the front office already had someone in place, as much as you can in the NFL, to take the job. A few names quickly popped to the top of that list: Bill O’Brien and Josh McDaniels. Last night Will Burge, formerly of ESPN Cleveland and now with Bleacher Report came out with these tweets:

Making Sense Of It

The Browns were left at the altar last year by Chip Kelly who was obviously their #1 choice for the job. For the Browns to have done some back channel checking on a coach before officially firing Chud helps ease their concern about missing out on their top candidate again this year. McDaniels was on their list last year as well but declined at that time to be under serious consideration.

McDaniels had his infamous run in Denver which included trading Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler as well as drafting Tim Tebow in the first round. In Denver the young McDaniels was given the same control of the team as his mentor Bill Bellichick has in New England. His youth, lack of experience and/or personality caused this to be too much control at that time. McDaniels has returned to the Patriots as the Offensive Coordinator for the past 2 season.

For the Browns the interest makes sense. McDaniels has ties to GM Mike Lombardi, has head coaching experience and has been bred under Bellichick. McDaniels offensive background fits with the theme of last year’s coaching search as Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam seemed focused on a dynamic offense in Cleveland. Some research has shown that coaches tend to improve in their second go around as a head coach and it is realistic to think McDaniels learned more from Bellichick following his own failed head coaching stint. Putting McDaniels with Brian Hoyer (who he coached in the past), Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron is exciting for the offense. McDaniels would most likely stick with the 3-4 defense and could possibly retain Ray Horton as well. McDaniels would also not be in charge of personnel with Joe Banner and Lombardi around, he will have influence but far less control then in Denver.

For McDaniels the lure is interesting. While he is from the Cleveland area and the team has draft and salary cap assets, he turned down the opportunity last year. Since then both Gordon and Cameron have developed in to Pro Bowl caliber players and the defense has been upgraded. Yet the team also fired their first head coach in the first year. Is McDaniels confident he would be given the chance for the team to develop over time? McDaniels has a cushy job with the Patriots and could even be the coach in waiting for the team. Could the rash of injuries on the team, the aging roster (especially with QB Tom Brady) and Bellichick’s possible desire to stay around for years pushed McDaniels to look at his dream (?) job?

The Browns would be required to fulfill the Rooney Rule. What coach would be willing to go through that farce if they knew that McDaniels was the hire? Will the Browns fulfill it with someone they plan to hire on McDaniels staff, like Horton last year? Do the Browns believe McDaniels can be the exception to the rule that Patriots assistants fail as head coaches? Does McDaniels see a winner in his hometown team, a sleeping giant as it were? Is McDaniels okay taking a job without as much control as he had with the Broncos? Much of this should play out in the next few days.

What would your response be to a McDaniels hire? Does how the Rooney Rule is put into action frustrate you? Are you thinking about Tim Tebow in Orange and Brown when you think of McDaniels?