CLEVELAND — As a sports columnist for The Boston Globe, Dan Shaughnessy has seen, first-hand, what a high-profile coach can do with a standout quarterback, as he watched Bill Belichick and Tom Brady combine to lead the New England Patriots to six Super Bowl championships.
With the Cleveland Browns interviewing Patriots offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels for their head coach vacancy today, Shaughnessy sees a similar situation because of the presence of Baker Mayfield.
“He’s a substantial candidate,” Shaughnessy told “Baskin and Phelps” on Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan Friday. “He’s a high-profile guy. You’ve got the quarterback. That’s a good future.”
If McDaniels is hired to become the Browns’ 18th full-time head coach, it would be a second chance at the corner office for the long-time Patriots assistant.
In parts of two seasons as Denver Broncos head coach, McDaniels posted an 11-17 record before being dismissed with four games remaining in the 2010 season. McDaniels had an 8-8 mark with a second-place finish in the AFC West in 2009.
Following his dismissal in Denver, McDaniels became the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the St. Louis Rams in 2011 before returning to the Patriots in 2012. McDaniels has remained the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Patriots for the last eight years.
During his time with the Patriots, McDaniels has been a part of five Super Bowl-winning teams.
Similarly to Belichick’s situation with accepting an offer from the New York Jets only to go back on his agreement to join the Patriots, McDaniels agreed to become the Indianapolis Colts’ coach in 2018 and walked away from the job on the very same day
.Following the expedited departure, McDaniels returned to the Patriots.
“The thing that bothers me more is I didn’t like the Indy thing two years ago,” Shaughnessy said.
“I thought that was a demonstration of suspect character to take that job, to hire assistants, to bring people in, change their lives, and then, leave. I didn’t dig that in the least. I thought it would really hurt him with future interviews.”
Although McDaniels left the Colts in less-than-ideal fashion, he remained a high-profile candidate that many teams requested interviews with over the last two seasons. However, this year, the Browns are the last vacancy as the other four teams, Dallas, Washington, Carolina and New York Giants, filled their head coach positions without speaking to McDaniels.
McDaniels remained a sought-after candidate because of his ability to get the most out of every player in New England, regardless of how injuries ravaged the roster over the last two seasons.
While Belichick gets the lion’s share of the credit for the Patriots’ successes in all three phases, Shaughnessy believes McDaniels deserves some of the praise for his role in the offense.
“Bill does turn it over to Josh,” Shaughnessy said of the offensive play-calling. “The ultimate call is Bill’s, but I think (Josh is behind) the stuff they come out with right out of the gate, the scripted stuff, the first possession, the adjustments after halftime.
“They did a lot of trickeration this year, which they needed to do because they didn’t have that much. They kind of opened their book a little earlier than they normally would, and I really believe that’s Josh, the scheming and stuff that would catch you off-guard.”