The NFL is looking to enact a new rule inspired by the actions of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who led the Indianapolis Colts astray by reneging on a verbal coaching agreement at the last minute.
According to NFL.com journalist Judy Battista, the league is set to introduce a policy that will allow franchises to hire coaches from teams that are still competing in the playoffs.
As noted by CBS Sports contributor Sean Wagner-McGough, the importance of having such a rule was highlighted earlier this month.
On Jan. 15, McDaniels entered into a verbal agreement with the Colts to become the team’s coach. However, this occurred during the Patriots’ playoff run while McDaniels was still their offensive coordinator.
Previous NFL policy stated that McDaniels couldn’t sign an official agreement until after the team’s playoff run had concluded, and unfortunately for the Colts, McDaniels and the Patriots playoff run ended after the Super Bowl.
Two days after the Super Bowl the Colts announced that McDaniels had officially been hired as their head coach.
But apparently nothing was ever put in writing, leaving McDaniels theoretically capable of backing out at any time. And that is exactly what he did, opting to abandon the Colts and stay in New England.
And while the Colts franchise is known for their last-second ditching maneuvers as well (e.g., the midnight move from Baltimore to Indianapolis) they didn’t deserve the treatment McDaniels administered. They were left empty-handed after passing on virtually every other coaching prospect while waiting for McDaniels.
The Colts eventually found a replacement, hiring former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich. While Reich is a fine coach, he wasn’t the Colts’ first option.
The expected rule change will allow teams to sign coaches from teams while they are still in the playoffs in an attempt to prevent coaches such as McDaniels from reneging on commitments without penalty.
Now, of course, McDaniels’ reputation is likely tarnished by the move. However, that is the extent of the punishment he faces for leaving the Indianapolis faithful high and dry.
“It’s a common-sense change and nobody should be opposed to it,” Wagner-McGough wrote in a CBS Sports report. “What happened with McDaniels earlier this month only shows just how much trouble not having this rule can cause.”
“It’s not like a coach signing a contract during a playoff run would be too big of a distraction for a playoff team to overcome. Everyone in football — especially the Patriots — knew McDaniels had agreed to become the Colts’ coach,” he added. “Signing a contract wouldn’t change things.”
While the potential implementation of the “Josh McDaniels rule” is potentially the biggest rule change coming this offseason, it wasn’t the only one.
WEEI reported that the NFL Competition Committee met Monday and also discussed potentially changing the catch rule.
A portion of the rule stating that receivers must control the ball through the ground in order for the catch to be completed may be removed, according to Battista.
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