FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts — In his first public comments since he declined at the last minute to accept the Indianapolis Colts’ head coaching position, Josh McDaniels denied Friday that he’d made any deal to succeed Bill Belichick as coach of the New England Patriots.
McDaniels listed several reasons for remaining in New England as Belichick’s offensive coordinator — some personal, some football-related. But he said his job is no different than it was before his near-departure for Indianapolis.
“No, I mean my role is the same,” McDaniels said when asked if he’d received any assurances of becoming the Patriots’ next coach. “Look, I think if you’re here, you have an opportunity to work with and for some of the best people in our game, maybe some of the best people that have ever done those things in our game. So I just feel like it’s a great opportunity to be here in my role.”
That role will continue to be calling plays and working with quarterback Tom Brady.
“Whatever happens in the future’s going to happen,” he said. “I’ll be happy with whatever that is.”
McDaniels and the rest of the Patriots’ assistants spoke to reporters at Gillette Stadium on Friday for the first time since New England’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl on Feb. 4.
The Colts thought they had hired McDaniels two days later, tweeting out a welcome and even scheduling a news conference for the next day. Instead, McDaniels, who was coach of the Denver Broncos from 2009-10, changed his mind and returned to the Patriots for his 10th season as offensive coordinator.
“You know there’s a lot that goes into those things and it can be very complicated,” he said. “I’ve stated again and again that I definitely want to be a head coach again. At the same time, I love being here.
“This is where my kids are born and raised and we’ve made a pretty special life here and that’s not an easy thing to leave. There’s a lot to consider, and certainly leaving here I don’t take lightly ever. … It was a difficult process and I’m very happy with the decision that we made.”
While McDaniels returns to his old role, linebackers coach Brian Flores’ duties will expand. Although he won’t have the title of defensive coordinator, Flores will call the plays. This isn’t a new situation for Belichick’s staff: Matt Patricia, who left to become coach of the Detroit Lions in January, called plays from 2009-11 before getting the defensive coordinator title in 2012.
The Patriots ranked 29th in yards allowed per game (366) but were fifth in points allowed (18.5) last season.
Flores doesn’t anticipate making a personal stamp on the defense just because he’ll be calling the plays.
“I think there’s a long history of this defense. Bill’s been here for a number of years, so I would say we’re going to continue to play defense like we’ve played for the last 18 seasons since he’s been here,” Flores said. “My role in that is no different than any other coach on the team. We’re trying to put something together here and do whatever helps us win, you know. You can call it a personal imprint, but it’s a team imprint. … We’re trying to build to be as good as we can be.”