Retread factor: Have Josh McDaniels, Pat Shurmur learned from their mistakes?

SHARE Retread factor: Have Josh McDaniels, Pat Shurmur learned from their mistakes?

Josh McDaniels didn’t make a lot of friends in his first head coaching job in the NFL. Chiefs coach Todd Haley had some choice words for McDaniels and refused to shake his hand after the Broncos beat the Chiefs in 2010. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Two questions likely were at the center of the Bears’ interview with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: ‘‘Can you live without control of the 53-man roster?’’ And, ‘‘What did you learn from your Broncos experience?’’

If McDaniels answers the first question in the affirmative, the second becomes particularly relevant. With what is likely a make-or-break hire, Bears general manager Ryan Pace could use a coach who already has made his head-coaching mistakes.

That makes McDaniels and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur intriguing candidates for the Bears’ coaching vacancy. McDaniels was fired after 28 games as the coach of the Broncos in 2009-10; Shurmur was fired after going 9-23 with the Browns in 2011-12.


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The list of NFL coaches who have failed in their first head-coaching job and then found success elsewhere isn’t long. But it is impressive enough that you can’t eliminate candidates such as McDaniels and Shurmur out of hand:

• Bill Belichick, who was fired after five seasons with the Browns (with one playoff berth) and has won five Super Bowls with the Patriots.

• Mike Shanahan, who was fired by the Raiders four games into his second season (8-12 overall), then won two Super Bowls with the Broncos.

• Marv Levy, who was fired by the Chiefs in 1982 (31-42 in five seasons), then reached the Super Bowl in four consecutive seasons with the Bills.

• Pete Carroll, who was fired after going 6-10 with the Jets in 1994, went to the playoffs with the Patriots and has won and lost the Super Bowl with the Seahawks.

All were victims of extenuating circumstances, to some extent. Belichick was caught in the undertow of the Browns’ move to Baltimore. Shanahan’s firing was an impulse move by Al Davis after the Raiders started 1-3 in 1989. Carroll was ousted after Jets general manager Dick Steinberg — a big supporter — took leave after being diagnosed with cancer.

Levy’s firing was more of a standard performance-based case, though Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt acknowledged the strike-shortened 1982 season affected the decision-making process.

‘‘Marv proved us to be wrong,’’ Hunt told the Sun-Times in 2000. ‘‘We certainly were not patient enough and didn’t put the proper evaluation on the circumstances of the strike year. We made a mistake.’’

You can argue that Shurmur and McDaniels fall into the ‘‘extenuating circumstances’’ category. Shurmur coached the Browns in the heart of their era of dysfunction (six head coaches and six general managers in nine seasons from 2008 to 2016). Just by not being with the Browns, he’s a better coach.

McDaniels is the more intriguing candidate. His 28 games with the Broncos were a classic case of too much, too soon. He was the youngest coach in the NFL at 32 and was given authority over the roster. From the start, he made mistakes that overshadowed anything he did on the field — starting with the alienation of quarterback Jay Cutler.

McDaniels’ heavy-handed manner was off-putting. He clashed with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Tony Scheffler. He drafted quarterback Tim Tebow and traded for quarterback Brady Quinn.

He was considered arrogant, with a smartest-guy-in-the-room mentality. Or, as Denver Post columnist Woody Paige described it, an ‘‘unrelenting narcissistic public attitude.’’

At Super Bowl LI media night last year, he acknowledged he wasn’t ready to be a head coach when he was hired by the Broncos.

‘‘Some of the things I failed at before, I think I learned from and am better for it,’’ McDaniels said. ‘‘I think I am.’’

If McDaniels is humbled enough by the experience to let Pace control the 53-man roster, those hard lessons in Denver might pay off. As Belichick himself knows well, timing is everything.

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.


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