New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels made no friends in Indianapolis when he left the Colts at the coaching altar this week. It was bad form, at least, and the fallout could hinder McDaniels' efforts to become a head coach in other cities around the NFL. That is not necessarily a given, however.
There are multiple angles of the story to consider. Conversations with three league insiders brought three perspectives to the NFL's story of the week outside Philadelphia.
While the Colts move forward with other candidates in mind, we consider what the future could hold for McDaniels.
1. The hard line
A former general manager with three decades of NFL front-office experience was blunt in his initial assessment of McDaniels' chances of becoming a head coach somewhere other than New England.
"I don't think he can ever be a head coach in the NFL," the former GM said. "I wouldn't take a chance hiring him. I know it is a stressful time, but what happens again with Josh when the s--- gets tight? Does he do the same thing? That is what I would worry about in hiring him as a head coach. That is why I would just pass."
Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said there is "no excuse" for McDaniels to break his commitment after assistant coaches signed contracts with Indianapolis under the impression McDaniels would be their head coach. The decision to back out led McDaniels' agent, Bob LaMonte, to break off their professional relationship.
It's clear McDaniels' actions turned off many people.
2. The middle ground
A different executive with more than two decades of NFL experience said perceptions about McDaniels will hinge, to some degree, on what happens next. Do the Patriots have a plan for McDaniels that goes beyond being offensive coordinator?
"If Bill Belichick stays as Patriots coach for three more years and McDaniels is out looking for jobs in the next year or two, then what happened with the Colts is going to hurt him," this exec said. "People are going to go, 'Wait a second, are you going to commit to this or not commit to this?'"
Timing is another issue to consider here.
The Patriots' participation in the Super Bowl delayed the process for Indy. Despite having one bye week before the playoffs and another bye before the Super Bowl, New England apparently did nothing to communicate its plans for McDaniels in a way that would have deterred him from engaging the Colts. Belichick could have wanted to keep the focus on game preparation. The reality for McDaniels could have been that he didn't know until Tuesday where he stood with the Patriots.
That doesn't excuse McDaniels from breaking a verbal commitment that affected staff members the Colts already had hired. However, if the timeline is more favorable for another team at another time, pursuing McDaniels could carry less risk.
3. A contrarian view
McDaniels unhirable? Think what you want to think. Just remember that a guy with a helicopter pad on his super yacht could be the one deciding who is hirable.
"Take the Redskins as an example," a third insider said. "Since 2001, they have hired [Marty] Schottenheimer, [Steve] Spurrier, [Joe] Gibbs, [Mike] Shanahan and [Jay] Gruden. They have loved the shiny new name. They are going to hire whoever they want."
The former GM who wouldn't consider McDaniels as a head-coaching candidate based on McDaniels' withdrawal from the Colts job acknowledged that it's not going to matter what Colts fans or media analysts or even NFL team execs think.
"If the owner develops a relationship with him, he has a chance," this exec said of McDaniels, "but GMs will be scared to death."
The fact that McDaniels is only 41 years old could give him plenty of time for another shot.
"If McDaniels somehow doesn't get the Patriots job [down the line], he will leave in a huff, coordinate somewhere else and then get a head-coaching job," the third insider said. "Will he get hired again? Yes. Can he get hired again? Yes. What is the most important thing about getting hired? Body of work on the field. Owners are going to hire anyone they believe gives them the best chance to win games. The rest of this stuff just doesn't really make any difference."