New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels withdrew himself from consideration for the Browns’ head-coaching job after being told he was not the front-runner, an NFL source said Wednesday night, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the search.
Earlier in the day, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported McDaniels had removed himself from the running.
The source who spoke to the Beacon Journal said McDaniels reached out to the Browns to see where he stood after interviewing with the team last Saturday.
When McDaniels was told the Browns did not consider him the favorite and that they wanted to continue an exhaustive search featuring more NFL coaches and others from the college ranks, he dropped out, the source said.
The media had often labeled McDaniels the leading candidate to replace Rob Chudzinski, who was fired Dec. 29 after just one season on the job.
Schefter reported one person who knows McDaniels said he had “an awesome” meeting with Browns, but it isn’t the right time for him to become a head coach. Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported that McDaniels, who grew up in Canton, met with the Browns for 7½ hours Saturday and that owner Jimmy Haslam “loved him.”
NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported the primary reason for McDaniels staying with the Patriots is to create stability for his family. He and his wife have four young children.
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.
During a conference call Monday with Patriots beat writers, McDaniels confirmed he interviewed with the Browns, though he didn’t elaborate on how the meeting went.
“The opportunities are certainly flattering if they come up,” McDaniels said. “That being said, I am going to try to keep my focus on the Colts and our preparation this week. Like I’ve said in the past, I’m fortunate to have the job I have, and I love being here. I love doing what I’m doing. Each opportunity that comes along is a little different and I’m going to leave it at that and continue to put my effort and attention into the Colts this week.”
So the Browns’ courtship of McDaniels, 37, won’t end in marriage. Perhaps it’s best for both sides.
The next head-coaching job he accepts better be the right one because it could be his last chance after going 11-17 with 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.
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 was happy in New England.
With McDaniels out of the picture, the Browns must focus on other candidates.
They interviewed Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo on Wednesday, according to reports.
“He’s prepared himself for opportunities potentially that are out there,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of McAdoo during a news conference Wednesday. “I think the world of Ben. I’ve been with Ben a long time and have seen him diligently prepare himself to move forward. So whatever opportunities that do come by, he’ll do a phenomenal job.”
They met with Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles last week, according to reports.
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 first interview request the Browns submitted went to Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, but he said he would postpone all 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.
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 front-runner to land the Penn State job, according to reports.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.