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Josh McDaniels turns down interview with Bengals, will only meet with Packers for now

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The Pats’ OC seems to be focusing on one potential head coaching opportunity.

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The front-runner for the Green Bay Packers’ head coaching job appears to be giving some signs that he is focused on the opportunity to come to Wisconsin. New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is scheduled to interview with the Packers on Friday in Foxboro, one of several individuals that the Packers will talk to this week.

While the Packers are meeting with fellow Patriots assistant Brian Flores on Friday before flying to New Orleans to interview two Saints assistants on Saturday, McDaniels is keeping his schedule clear the rest of the week. According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, McDaniels turned down an interview request from the Cincinnati Bengals, which was the only other team known to have asked to meet with him about a head coaching job so far.

If other teams would want to talk to McDaniels, they would likely have submitted their requests by now. Because the Patriots earned a first-round bye in the postseason, McDaniels is only eligible to interview the week before the Wild Card round. After Sunday, the next opportunity for him to talk to teams would be either after the Patriots are eliminated from the postseason or the week following the Conference Championship games.

For now, however, it appears that McDaniels’ options are limited to two: get the Packers’ job, or stay with the Patriots as their OC. One interpretation of his decision to turn down the other interview is that he is focused on getting the job in Green Bay. However, the other option is that the Bengals job is simply not appealing.

Bengals owner Mike Brown is also the team’s president and de facto general manager, and therefore calls all the shots for the franchise. He did give former head coach Marvin Lewis a lengthy tenure in Cincinnati — 16 years, to be exact — but there is more to a coaching job than simply job security. The Bengals had an abysmal defense in 2018 and finished 6-10, their third straight year below .500 after a string of five straight playoff appearances (but no postseason victories). Cincinnati’s personnel department also is very thin by NFL standards, employing eight individuals compared to the 18 individuals listed on the Packers’ staff.

That structure and Brown’s perceived reluctance to open up his purse strings in free agency may be some reasons why an ESPN poll of league sources found the Bengals’ job to be least-appealing of the eight open head coaching positions across the NFL this offseason. The Packers, meanwhile, are tied with the Browns for first place in the same poll, likely thanks to a somewhat more standard personnel structure — and a certain quarterback named Aaron Rodgers.

Whatever the reason, it looks like the Packers will be the only team meeting with McDaniels this week. This suggests that the only team they would be bidding against for his services — should Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst decide he is the man for the job — would be his current employer.