The Patriots lost a heartbreaking Super Bowl, but they can find some solace in not losing their offensive coordinator.
Josh McDaniels, who was expected to become the next head coach of the Colts, is returning to Foxboro as offensive coordinator after having his deal reworked with the team, the Colts confirmed in a statement Tuesday evening.
"After agreeing to contract terms to be the Indianapolis Colts' next coach, Josh McDaniels this evening informed us that he would not be joining our team," the statement read. "Although we are surprised and disappointed, we will resume our head coaching search immediately and find the right fit to lead our team and organization on and off the field.
"The scheduled press conference at Lucas Oil Stadium will not take place tomorrow. More information forthcoming."
This stunning about-face by McDaniels leaves the Colts in a giant lurch just weeks before the Combine and little doubt that McDaniels is the unofficial successor to Bill Belichick whenever the five-time Super Bowl-winning head coach steps down in New England.
McDaniels, 41, was announced as the Colts new head coach Tuesday afternoon and was expected to be formally introduced as Chuck Pagano's replacement in a Wednesday news conference.
Instead, as Schefter reports, an 11th-hour meeting between McDaniels and Patriots owner Robert Kraft ended in the offensive coordinator opting not to take his second head-coaching position — for now. The "sweetener" in McDaniels' contract, Schefter reports, wasn't the only force behind his audible.
McDaniels was having great consternation over moving his family from New England to Indianapolis throughout the entire interview process, the report states. McDaniels' second meeting with the team, this time with owner Jim Irsay present over wild-card weekend, occurred due to McDaniels' uncertainty.
And there's still uncertainty regarding the right shoulder of franchise QB Andrew Luck, Chris Mortensen reported Sunday, and the possibility of it requiring more surgery remains.
Although he'll no longer be the head coach, McDaniels' assistants who were already lined up — defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and D-line coach Mike Phair — will remain with the Colts as part of their new staff.
It's obviously tremendous news for the Patriots, who lost defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to the Lions' head position and were bracing to lose both coordinators in the same offseason for the first time since Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel departed for head gigs following the 2004 campaign.
For Indianapolis, it's a disastrous turn of events. Matt Nagy, the Bears head coach, was reported to be one of GM Chris Ballard's top targets, but Nagy quickly signed on with Chicago and reports surfaced that Ballard was locked onto McDaniels from the start.
Now, it's back to the drawing board in Indianapolis, where the Colts will have not only a late start on draft preparation but must hire a head coach and also fill out his staff well after many of their top candidates have found landing spots.
One name who wasn't in the first round of interviews to consider as the Colts' consolation prize: Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub, who worked with Ballard in Kansas City. NFL Media reports Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who won a Super Bowl with the Colts as an assistant under Tony Dungy, could also receive consideration. And Eagles assistants — offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFillipo — are two additional names to watch as the Colts awkwardly resume the interview process.
McDaniels, beloved by the Krafts and long considered the most likely in-house successor to Belichick, still wants to be a head coach again. His decision Tuesday night seemingly would make it extremely tough for him to accomplish that goal with 31 of the 32 NFL clubs. But it's easy to imagine the "sweetener" on his new Patriots contract including a mighty strong assurance the keys to the Patriots kingdom will eventually be passed from Belichick to him.