INDIANAPOLIS — Colts general manager Chris Ballard ended his Wednesday news conference with a drop-the-mic line: “The rivalry is back on.”
That was Ballard’s reaction to the Patriots and their offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, who reversed field and decided to remain in New England rather than become the next head coach of the Colts.
According to Ballard, McDaniels called him on Tuesday and said he had bad news. Ballard replied, “I just need a yes or no. There was no persuasion…I want someone who is 100 percent committed.”
Ballard says he quickly moved on from his five-minute phone conversation. Wednesday he put an emphasis on reassuring people that the Colts will be able to find the right head coach to replace Chuck Pagano, who was fired in January after six seasons.
“I just need a yes or no. There was no persuasion…I want someone who is 100 percent committed.”
Colts GM Chris Ballard
The Colts identified McDaniels as their primary candidate early in the coaching search, and were willing for the Patriots to finish their run to Super Bowl LII. Now Indianapolis is expected to request permission for interviews with Frank Reich, the offensive coordinator for the champion Eagles, and Dan Campbell, the assistant head coach of the Saints, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“We’ll keep moving forward,” Ballard said. “Obstacles happen. It doesn’t always work out or go the way we planned on it. It’s the mentally tough, gritty people that overcome these things that are successful.
“We’re going to get there. Unquestionably, we’re going to get there. We have a list of candidates. (We) had them from the get go. There are other guys we wanted to interview (early in the process) but because of the playoffs we weren’t able to do it. 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.”
The Colts were so confident that McDaniels would be their next coach that they announced that they had had agreed to a deal with him on Tuesday and had scheduled a press conference to introduce him on Wednesday afternoon.
McDaniels’ agent, Bob LaMonte, was stunned Tuesday when McDaniels informed him that he would not accept the Colts job, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. When McDaniels told him he was staying in New England, LaMonte replied that McDaniels was “committing professional suicide,” according to the source.
LaMonte, who is also Ballard’s agent, has terminated his relationship with McDaniels, according to sources.
Ballard took responsibility for announcing the hire before McDaniels signed a contract.
When was asked his reaction to McDaniels’ decision, Ballard said, “I’m competitive and I want to win. Things work out for a reason. Just because you’re the first choice, doesn’t make you the right choice.”
Several candidates the Colts interviewed early in the process, including Matt Nagy and Mike Vrabel, have already landed other head-coaching jobs. And the NFL’s annual scouting combine is less than three weeks away. Despite being so late in the process, Ballard emphasized that they will not put a timetable on when they will hire a coach. He also pointed out he won’t circle back to any of the coaches they previously interviewed.
“There’s a lot of good coaches out there,” Ballard said. “There’s a lot of good assistant coaches out there. Everybody gets in panic mode and starts hiring. I don’t believe in that. I believe you have to be patient, take your time.”
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