Do the Green Bay Packers really want to go down this road?
On the surface, Josh McDaniels and the Packers seem a decent marriage of authority and faculty. Green Bay needs a guy who has shown that he can manage the inner workings and ego of one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL while balancing an offense in need of a re-tool.
Likewise, McDaniels, scared off by the health of Andrew Luck the last time he accepted a job, then declined it, last February with the Indianapolis Colts, has his safeguard in place with the Packers; a dependable, veteran quarterback around whom he can build his respected offense.
It’s a good situation for both parties.
But it isn’t perfect for McDaniels. That job may be 550 miles to the Southeast.
In terms of football hierarchy, Green Bay has the cache and historical footprint to entice any potential candidate to fill its vacant head coaching position. Throw in perennial MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers, and for McDaniels, it might be like trading the best quarterback in the NFL in Tom Brady for the other best quarterback in the NFL.
This isn’t so much about McDaniels’s ability to turn the ship around in Green Bay as much as it is asking what sort of vessel it is he’d be attaching himself to. It’s not like Brady would ever be in a situation where he’s facing a meaningless regular-season finale like Rodgers. But even before leaving Sunday’s game with a concussion, Rodgers had already seemingly quit on the season, something one would never expect from the Patriots quarterback.
Compare that to what Browns fans have witnessed this year in Cleveland, where the head-coaching position has been open since firing Hue Jackson earlier this season. They might have been only a game better at 7-8-1, but that’s also a record born from quick maturity rather than sudden apathy. Baker Mayfield finished the 2018 season with the most touchdowns (27) for a rookie quarterback, and he did that in only 13 starts. He’s also 12 years the junior (23) of Rodgers, and even from a distance it’s evident that his cocky surety and drive may closer resemble what McDaniels has in Brady than anything Rodgers has left to give.
Would Rodgers have gone toe-to-toe with the Baltimore Ravens the way Mayfield did on Sunday with nothing on the line but playoff positioning for others?
Coaches should be lining up feverishly to attach themselves with Mayfield, a situation that Cleveland execs probably never anticipated in any head-coaching search. Indeed though, the Browns, the laughingstock of the professional sports world for so many years, have finally hit pay dirt with a quarterback, leading to a resurgence of the franchise. They finally got it right in Cleveland.
Now, they just need the coach.
McDaniels is reportedly open to speaking with teams about their vacancies, something that might have seemed foolhardy only a few months ago when he reunited with the Patriots after leading the Colts on a wild goose chase. The theory was that McDaniels and Bob Kraft might have had an agreement in New England, that McDaniels was in line to take over when Bill Belichick was ready to retire.
So, what changed?
Why was New England’s tractor beam so strong last January that it was able to remove McDaniels from Indianapolis’ grasp, but has weakened to the point where he’s willing to enter into this whole charade yet again? Will the Packers entertain interviewing McDaniels only to watch him hem-and-haw his way back to the Patriots?
Various reports claim McDaniels to be the “clear-cut favorite” in Green Bay.
“I mean, who better would you have than him?” Former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis asked ESPN. “He would fit that criteria. That’s kind of an easy one because even though Tommy and Aaron are not the same people, they’re still veteran quarterbacks that are mentally as sharp as anybody. And because you’ve been dealing with one the whole time, it would be a fairly easy transition, I would think.”
If we know anything about McDaniels search for the next, great gig, it has to be precisely that; a situation where he’s set up for immediate success and not the potential for the bottom falling out. That’s precisely what happened in Green Bay, with Rodgers leading the lassitude.
How long through the interviewing process might it take McDaniels to realize that?
Maybe it’s not so much a road that Green Bay wants to avoid as much as it is one McDaniels should ignore entirely.
Maybe he belongs in Cleveland. Maybe he’ll spend next season still latched on with the New England Patriots.
But Green Bay seems right for all the wrong reasons. McDaniels should probably understand that before we launch into what might be a farcical job-seeking opportunity.