The position of NFL head coach is one of the most sought-after occupations in sports. In any given year, there are hundreds of candidates who would do just about anything to land an interview, much less an offer. Only 32 spots exist.
So it says a lot about how the Cleveland Browns are now perceived around the NFL that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was widely reported to be the front-runner for their head-coaching vacancy, withdrew his name from consideration.
It says even more about the Browns that it was the right call, at least for him.
Adam Schefter of ESPN was among the first to break the news:
One person who knows Josh McDaniels said he had “an awesome” meeting with Browns, but it isn’t right time for him to become a head coach.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 8, 2014
If you replace the word "time" with "place" and tack "again" on the end, you have all you need to know about why McDaniels was wise to take a pass on the Browns' job.
Remember, this wouldn't be McDaniels' first bite at the head-coaching apple.
He choked on the last one.
|2009||8-8||Team Traded Jay Cutler in April, Won 1st 6 games|
|2010||3-9||Team Traded Brandon Marshall, Fired 12 games into season|
Overall record: 11-17
McDaniels' not-quite two seasons (2009-2010) as head coach of the Denver Broncos were something of a disaster. Public feuds with his own players. A videotaping scandal ("Spygate Jr." if you will) that led to fines for both McDaniels and the team.
Throw in a 5-17 record over his last 22 games, and McDaniels, the rising young star, was out the door 12 games into the 2010 campaign.
From there, McDaniels spent a year in St. Louis before re-joining the Patriots and eventually working back into his old job as offensive coordinator. Still only 37, McDaniels has rehabbed his image to the point where a second chance as a head coach appears likely.
However, if McDaniels' second tenure flames out like the first, then that's probably it. Two strikes and you're out. Back to the ranks of the assistant coaches to finish out your career.
That makes the situation McDaniels is potentially walking into absolutely critical, not only for this job but the rest of his professional coaching career.
And right now there isn't a worse situation in the NFL than Cleveland.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. The new regime, led by owner Jimmy Haslam, CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi, was going to do things differently.
Instead, the ink hadn't even dried on Haslam's ownership papers before the headquarters of his Pilot Flying J Company was raided by the FBI. Haslam is the subject of a criminal probe alleging millions of dollars in fraud.
Customers of Haslam's company aren't the only ones feeling ripped off right now.
Ask former head coach Rob Chudzinski. Surprisingly fired after only one season in Cleveland, Chudzinski said in a statement, via Nate Davis of USA Today, that he was "shocked and disappointed" after being let go by the same people who told him they were in it for the long haul together.
Or maybe ask the players. After Chudzinski was let go, one veteran told Michael Silver of NFL.com, "We are so dysfunctional." Another muttered, "This organization is a joke."
Does that sound like a situation that's conducive to success?
Are the Cleveland Browns the NFL's most dysfunctional franchise?
Of course not. Credit McDaniels for having the foresight to see that while resisting the temptation to grab the first line thrown to him.
Now the Browns will cast the net anew. A report will be leaked that McDaniels wasn't really their first choice anyway.
Then, when the team does find a new patsy (er, coach), Haslam, Banner and Lombardi will all grin like idiots, proclaiming that this is the coach they wanted along. "The future is bright!" they will say.
Browns fans will cling to that hope. It's what they do.
Unfortunately, that's about all they have to cling to now, because the new way of doing things in Cleveland looks an awful lot like the old way.
Credit McDaniels for seeing that, too.