The Green Bay Packers still have plenty of steps to take before concluding their head-coaching search. However, they appear to have come away from Friday’s interview with New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels sufficiently impressed. According to the Milwaukee journal-Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein, McDaniels remains “very much in play with the Packers” following his interview. Meanwhile, Pro Football Talk reports that the Patriots have begun preparations for McDaniels departure.
The pros and cons of McDaniels’ candidacy have grown into the topic du jour in Wisconsin since the conclusion of the Packers’ disastrous 2018 season. However, he seems to have sufficiently answered some of team president Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst’s concerns during their initial interview. Silverstein reports that McDaniels “did not turn off Murphy and Gutekunst with a his-way-or-the-highway attitude,” an approach that contributed to his demise as the Denver Broncos’ coach nearly a decade ago. If McDaniels has learned from his mistakes, he could have a successful second act as a head coach.
And it appears McDaniels does indeed want to coach the Packers. Pro Football Talk’s report notes that McDaniels “will only interview with teams that he’d be willing to coach,” adding that he would accept the job should Green Bay offer it. That tracks with earlier reports that McDaniels turned down an interview opportunity with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Packers will probably speak with their top candidates again before making a final decision. McDaniels cannot interview again until the Patriots fall out of the playoffs or the bye week before the Super Bowl, whichever comes first.
It would seemingly take a fairly monumental shift to dislodge McDaniels as the Packers’ front-runner at this stage. Both parties have a history of shifting gears at the 11th hour, however. McDaniels infamously backed out of an agreement to become the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach last February, a decision that continues to dog him in some NFL circles. That same offseason, Murphy intended to tab Russ Ball as Green Bay’s next GM before resistance from Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers resulted in a pivot to Gutekunst. Until McDaniels has signed a contract, another change of heart remains on the table for one side or the other.
Still, that seems less likely for either party this time around. McDaniels has every reason not to blow up another head-coaching opportunity following the debacle last year. The fact that one of the most successful offensive minds in the league received only two confirmed interview requests underscores the damage backing out of the Indy job has done to his reputation.
As for the Packers, finding someone who can relate to Rodgers has become of paramount importance following the communication breakdown that formed between the quarterback and McCarthy. McDaniels has spent much of his professional career working alongside Tom Brady, a player Rodgers holds in the highest regard. That connection could pave the way to a fruitful coach-QB relationship.
The Packers have plenty to consider as McDaniels prepares for his team’s divisional-round playoff game, including the other nine confirmed coaches they have interviewed. A few of those candidates should even receive a second meeting with Murphy and Gutekunst. However, it has become increasingly clear at this stage that McDaniels, with his résumé, skills, and apparently strong first impression, has positioned himself to land the job.