New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has withdrawn himself from consideration for the Browns’ head-coaching job, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported today, citing an unnamed source.
McDaniels, a Canton native, was a perceived favorite to replace Rob Chudzinski, who was fired Dec. 29 after just one season on the job. McDaniels interviewed with the Browns this past weekend in the New England area.
Schefter reported that one person who knows McDaniels said he had “an awesome” meeting with Browns, but it isn’t right time for him to become a head coach. Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported that McDaniels and the Browns met for seven-and-a-half hours Saturday and that owner Jimmy Haslam loved him.
After interviewing with Haslam and CEO Joe Banner during his team's bye on wild-card weekend, McDaniels is helping the Patriots prepare this week for their divisional playoff game Saturday night against the Indianapolis Colts. League rules prohibit teams from offering jobs to NFL assistant coaches until they're eliminated from the postseason.
Regardless, the Browns' courtship of McDaniels, 37, won't end in marriage unless he changes his mind. He went 11-17 as head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2009-10. He began his tenure 6-0 but was fired after Week 13 of the 2010 season, losing 17 of his last 22 games.
McDaniels, who was 32 when he took control of the Broncos in 2009, clashed with quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Both Pro Bowlers were eventually traded on McDaniels' watch.
His brief stay in Denver was also marred by a spying scandal. Broncos videographer Steve Scarnecchia violated league rules by videotaping the San Francisco 49ers during a practice Oct. 30, 2010, in London, and the NFL fined McDaniels $50,000 for failing to report the transgression.
Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi became familiar with McDaniels through his long-standing friendship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who worked with Lombardi in Cleveland from 1991-95. In his former role as an analyst for NFL Network, Lombardi defended McDaniels after the Broncos fired him and predicted he would become a great success story when given a second chance to serve as a head coach. It's one of the reasons McDaniels had been labeled a favorite to fill the Browns' vacancy.
Also, the Browns wanted to interview McDaniels last year before they hired Chudzinski. But McDaniels, a graduate of Canton McKinley High School and John Carroll University, notified all potential suitors that he wanted to stay with the Patriots at the time. He explained his family -- he and his wife have four children -- was happy in New England.
With McDaniels out of the picture, the Browns must focus on other candidates.
They’re interviewing Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo today for their head-coaching vacancy, according to reports. Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles are the candidates known to have interviewed with the Browns last week.
The team isn't commenting on interviews during its quest to replace Chudzinski, who went 4-12 in his lone season with the Browns.
The Browns requested permission to interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, but he said he would postpone such opportunities until his team is done with the playoffs. So if the Browns still want to pursue Gase, they'll need to play the waiting game before talking to him. The Broncos will face the San Diego Chargers in a divisional playoff game Sunday.
Gase was the first candidate the Browns requested to interview after they fired Chudzinski. League rules prohibit teams from offering jobs to NFL assistant coaches whose teams are in the playoffs.
The Browns also are interested in two college head coaches, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported last week. But Franklin has emerged as the clear front-runner for the Penn State job, according to reports. He also has an interview scheduled for Thursday with the Washington Redskins, La Canfora reported.