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New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had a change of heart about taking the Indianapolis Colts' head coaching job late Tuesday (Feb. 6).
"After agreeing to contract terms to become the Indianapolis Colts' new head coach, New England Patriots assistant coach Josh McDaniels this evening informed us that he would not be joining our team," the Colts announced in a statement on Tuesday. "Although we are surprised and disappointed, we will resume our head coaching search immediately and find the right fit to lead our team and organization on and off the field."
The news comes after the Colts had scheduled a press conference with Colts owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard to introduce McDaniels on Wednesday. That press conference was cancelled, but Ballard met with the media by himself.
Ballard said, "With Josh backing out, we were disappointed, unquestionably. We were disappointed and surprised. We'd agreed to contract terms. We had an agreement in place. We followed all the rules, did everything right. Two interviews, both of them went very well. Very confident we were going in the right direction, very confident Monday evening and into Tuesday morning."
Ballard was asked about the conversation with McDaniels when he was informed that the latter wouldn't be accepting the position.
"He said he had bad news for me," Ballard said. "I just said, I just needed a yes-or-no answer. 'Are you in or out?' We went around for a minute and he said he's out, and I said, 'OK. We're going to move forward and I wish you the best of luck.'"
Ballard added that he wasn't interested in persuading McDaniels to change his mind.
"There was no persuasion. Let me make this clear. I want, and we want as an organization, a head coach that wants to be all in," Ballard said. "We got work to do. I've not once hid that. We have work to do. And I want someone that's 100 percent committed to partnering with us and getting that work done."
Now, Ballard is just interested in moving forward.
"You can bet we're going to get there. Unquestionably, we're going to get there. We have a list of candidates we've had them from the get go," Ballard said. "We'll move forward with them and we will get the right leader for the Indianapolis Colts one that believes what we believe and wants to go where we want to go. I'm very confident in this."
Former Colts head coach Tony Dungy hard harsh words for McDaniels on Twitter. Dungy wrote, "I can tell you there is NO excuse big enough to justify this. It's one thing to go back on your word to an organization. But having assistant coaches leave jobs to go with you then leave them out to dry is indefensible. For COMFORT??"
The latter was in reference to coaches that had already signed contract with the Colts to work on McDaniels' staff: defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and defensive line coach Mike Phair.
The Colts couldn't seem to get out of their own way during the just completed 2017 regular season.
Indianapolis finished with a 4-12 record and wound up with a third-place finish in the AFC South thanks to sweeping the series with division-rival Houston.
It was the Colts' worst record since 2011, when the team finished with a 2-14 mark. Indianapolis will now have the third overall pick in the 2018 draft.
Injuries once again played havoc with the Colts roster as the team wound up with 17 players on the reserved/injured list by the end of the season.
That list included quite a few key starters, including quarterback Andrew Luck, running back Robert Turbin, rookie safety (and first-round pick) Malik Hooker, cornerback Pierre Desir, outside linebacker John Simon, inside linebacker Jon Bostic, guard Jack Mewhort, center Ryan Kelly and defensive end Henry Anderson.
Other starters, like wide receiver Donte Moncrief, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and tackle Denzelle Good, missed significant playing time.
Still, despite the health issues and the uncertainty of who was going to be able to play each week, the Colts were able to be competitive most of the season.
Indianapolis certainly had its chances to win game. But the Colts failed to hold the lead in five games during the 2017 regular season. That was two more than any other team in the league.
Consistency of effort was good for the most part. Finishing out games was the biggest on-field problem.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: The Colts' defensive line finally started to take shape in 2017, thanks largely to the addition of a pair of free agents - defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and nose tackle Al Woods - along with the return of defensive end Henry Anderson. Throw in the continued development of defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and the addition of rookie defensive tackle Grover Stewart and Indianapolis has some nice building blocks to work with.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Not having quarterback Andrew Luck available for the entire season. Team officials had hoped that backup quarterback Scott Tolzien could hold down the fort until Luck returned at some point. But Tolzien struggled badly in his only start of the season and Luck never made it back to the practice field on a regular basis. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett arrived just before the start of the regular season and was forced to play catch-up the rest of the way.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: Quarterback Scott Tolzien would probably edge out safety T.J. Green. Tolzien had played relatively well in his only start during a 2016 home-field start against Pittsburgh. So hopes were high that he could handle the job if starter Andrew Luck was sidelined short or long term. That didn't happen. Tolzien had an up-and-down preseason followed by a bad performance in a season opening road loss to the Rams. That forced the team to start quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who was acquired during the weekend of the cuts to 53 players.
MOST SURPRISING PLAYER: Cornerback Rashaan Melvin. He began the season as the "other" cornerback who lined up opposite Pro Bowler Vontae Davis. But as the season progressed and Davis battled injuries, it was Melvin who developed into the Colts' most consistent cornerback. He wound up tying for the team lead in interceptions with three (along with rookie safety Malik Hooker) and could wind up with a nice new contract during the offseason.
ASSISTANT COACH ON THE RISE: While there's uncertainty as to who will wind up as Indianapolis' new head coach, although there are numerous reports it will be New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer did a nice job of working with Jacoby Brissett during the season. Brissett was added to the roster a few days before the start of the regular season and was forced to learn the Colts' offensive system in a hurry. Schottenheimer, though, was there to help him work his way through the playbook. It is believed that Schottenheimer is headed to Seattle to be the Seahawks' new offensive coordinator.