Last but not least: Josh McDaniels interviews for 7 hours Friday with Browns

Patriots offensive coordinator, Canton native interviewed in 2009 and 2014

Daryl Ruiter
January 10, 2020 - 9:24 am
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels spent over seven hours Friday interviewing for the Browns head coaching job.

McDaniels left the Browns facility in Berea shortly after 5 p.m. and the team doesn’t appear ready to come to a final decision just yet.  

It marked the third time McDaniels interviewed for the job in Cleveland. He did so in 2009 before the Browns hired Eric Mangini and removed his name from consideration I 2014 before Mike Pettine got the job.

The stars could not align better to make the third time the charm for a McDaniels and Browns marriage, but the question remains, do the Haslams share McDaniels' vision for the organization and structure of it going forward?

McDaniels, who was born in Barberton and grew up in Canton, has had his eye on the Browns for years and opportunity knocks to make it finally happen.

But it is a two-way street.

Despite a failure in Denver 10 years ago that saw him fired during his second season and decision in 2018 to leave the Colts at the alter after accepting the head coaching job, McDaniels’ resume is as strong as they come.

Winner of six Super Bowls as a Patriots assistant, including three as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, McDaniels is in the driver’s seat. He doesn’t have to take the job and it could be argued the Browns need McDaniels more than McDaniels needs the Browns.

Multiple sources have told 92.3 The Fan that the team and McDaniels have had back channel communications and been able to work on some of the parameters of the interview that took place Friday.

Haslam said on Jan. 2 that the team intended to hire the head coach first, then the general manager.

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio is not expected to be part of McDaniels’ front office in Cleveland but pro scouting director Dave Ziegler likely will should McDaniels get the job sources tell 92.3 The Fan.

Haslam’s buzz word entering this latest search – his fifth as owner since 2013 – has been “alignment.” McDaniels’ likely is “trust.”

McDaniels needs to trust that Haslam won’t pull the rug out from underneath him, as he has done over and over again since taking control of the franchise. Justified or not, that’s Haslam’s reputation around the NFL.

An interesting cog in the whole wheel right now is chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and his role going forward. DePodesta joined Haslam, executive vice president JW Johnson and vice president of football administration Chris Cooper in the coaching search.

DePodesta’s influence has ruffled feathers among some within the organization over the years as he commutes from San Diego or works remotely. The fact DePodesta once again has ownership’s ear under the new structure were DePodesta, the head coach and GM will all once again report independently to ownership could be viewed as counterproductive to the everyday work that is done.  

That structure has led to problems before behind the scenes between the front office and coaching staff and it is unclear if McDaniels would be comfortable with such an arrangement continuing with DePodesta.

If not, and the Haslams really want McDaniels, they may have to make more organizational changes which could explain why they haven’t rushed the completion of their search.

They could also pass on McDaniels, opt to keep DePodesta and pair him with another candidate that is amenable to the new structure.

These are difficult decisions considering DePodesta’s intimate involvement in this search.

Unlike 2009 and 2014, the Browns are not a massive rebuilding project, which sets McDaniels up for immediate success.

With a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, 1,494-yard runner Nick Chubb around quarterback Baker Mayfield, McDaniels could walk in the door and win now, making him an instantaneous hometown hero.

That could be the best-selling point to McDaniels the Browns have going for them.

McDaniels was said to be high on Mayfield entering the 2018 draft and worked him out in the weeks leading up to it despite holding the No. 31 pick. New England reportedly was willing to trade up to No. 2 to nab Mayfield in the event Cleveland passed on him.

The Browns did not.

McDaniels is the eighth, and perhaps final, candidate to interview to replace Freddie Kitchens, fired Dec. 29 following a disappointing 6-10 finish in 2019.

Mike McCarthy, who was hired this week by the Cowboys, and Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman interviewed Jan. 2, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh interviewed last weekend. Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll interviewed Monday, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz interviewed Wednesday and Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski interviewed Thursday.