The Browns have moved on without Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels, a Canton native and offensive coordinator of the Patriots, withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday after he called the Browns and was told he wasn’t the front-runner to be their coach, a league source told The Chronicle-Telegram.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Wednesday that McDaniels took himself out of the running.
“One person who knows Josh McDaniels said he had ‘an awesome’ meeting with Browns, but it isn’t right time for him to become a head coach,” Schefter tweeted.
The Browns never had McDaniels at the top of their list, according to a source. The extensive search that includes college coaches, NFL coordinators and position coaches is ongoing and reportedly continued Wednesday with an interview of Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo.
In addition to meeting with McDaniels on Saturday, the Browns interviewed Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles last week and requested permission to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, but he declined until Denver’s done with the postseason. The Broncos had a first-round bye and host the Chargers on Sunday.
Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin are also on the radar.
Franklin is reportedly in the running for the Penn State job. He also has an interview with the Redskins scheduled for Thursday and the Browns are still looking at him, CBS’ Jason La Canfora reported. He also cited sources that said Malzahn is “very happy where he is and it would likely be cost prohibitive to get him to leave for the NFL now.”
Public perception and national media reports had McDaniels as a favorite to get the job. He was connected to the vacancy even before Rob Chudzinski was officially fired Dec. 29 after going 4-12 in his only season.
McDaniels and Browns general manager Michael Lombardi are connected by Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Lombardi and Belichick worked together in Cleveland in the 1990s, and McDaniels is in his second stint as coordinator under Belichick in New England. Lombardi is a big fan of McDaniels.
McDaniels, 37, grew up a Browns fan and they were apparently the only team that expressed interest in giving him a second chance as a head coach. He has a good thing going in New England with Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady and seems happy.
He must also be careful about what job he takes for his second head coaching try. If he was hired in Cleveland and failed as he did in Denver – he went 11-17 and was fired before the end of his second season – he would be hard pressed to get another head coaching job.
McDaniels was hired by Denver in 2009 when he was 32 and was given control of the personnel department. After a 6-0 start to his career, the Broncos finished 8-8. They were 3-9 when he was fired in 2010.
In addition to the losing, McDaniels had other issues.
He traded quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall, a pair of Pro Bowlers. He drafted quarterback Tim Tebow in the first round, and he’s already out of the league. McDaniels and the Broncos were also fined $50,000 each after the team’s video operations director filmed a 49ers walkthrough in London in 2010, breaking NFL rules. McDaniels said he didn’t watch the video but failed to promptly report it to the NFL.
McDaniels interviewed with the Browns on Saturday in New England during the Patriots’ playoff bye. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reported the meeting lasted 7½ hours.
“We met and that’s about all there is at this point,” McDaniels said Monday. “Nothing, nothing further. I appreciate the question, and I understand it. I know that’s something that comes up each time this year for other coaches. The opportunities are certainly flattering if they come up.
“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.”
Lombardi appeared to be the driving force behind McDaniels’ candidacy. He spoke glowingly of him during his time as an NFL Network analyst.
“Firing McDaniels 28 games into his tenure as the head coach is bad for both parties,” Lombardi wrote in 2010. “It wasn’t enough time for the team to be fully developed, or enough time for McDaniels to grow into the job.
“I believe McDaniels will one day be a successful head coach. I believe this because I know what it takes to be successful in the league. ... McDaniels will learn from his tenure in Denver, just as Belichick learned from his time in Cleveland, and some other owner willing to change will benefit greatly.”
That won’t be the Browns’ Jimmy Haslam.