New England Patriots

Josh McDaniels and the Colts can’t announce their new partnership until after the Super Bowl. But of course, that won’t stop the questions from rolling in about his rapidly approaching future in Indianapolis.

One of the biggest football figures who addressed McDaniels’ potential as a head coach is, fittingly, another former Colts head coach: Tony Dungy. NBC’s Football Night In America analyst knows the Colts organization under owner Jim Irsay as well as anyone. Dungy isn’t short on confidence that the Patriots offensive coordinator can greatly improve his record and reputation as the next head coach in Indianapolis.

“I know from talking to Josh that he’s learned some things, things that didn’t go well in Denver,” Dungy said during his media availability on Tuesday at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. “He wont make those same mistakes, or he’ll do it a little bit differently.

“He’s worked for the best guy in football for a number of years. Coach Belichick made some adjustments going from Cleveland to New England. I think Josh will do the same thing. I think he’s going to be outstanding.”

Tony Dungy, speaks during his 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction on August 6, 2016 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Tony Dungy, speaks during his 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction on August 6, 2016 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

What About Irsay?

Perhaps the real concern with McDaniels isn’t him, but the owner he’ll be working for. Irsay has garnered a reputation, fair or unfair, for being a bit of a loose cannon. (It’s fair.) His public image is that of an owner who can’t be trusted to run a smooth operation or support his coaches. But Dungy, who coached the Colts under Irsay from 2002-08, painted a strikingly different picture.

“Jim Irsay was the best. I can’t even emphasize how good he was to work for,” said Dungy. “I didn’t ask for much. But anything I asked for, whatever you need, you got it. He’s so empathetic to the players. He does things … in the city that no one knows about. He’s just a special guy.

“If I would go back to work for anybody, it would be Jim Irsay. That’s how I feel about him. I think [general manager] Chris Ballard is going to be tremendous. I think Josh is going to be tremendous. I think they’re going to put something together like we had … when I was there.”

What To Expect

Despite Irsay’s public image, he has been forgiving of his head coaches. He let Chuck Pagano slog through a 20-28 record in the past three seasons before showing him the door, after six years total. Even Jim Caldwell got three seasons. So the likelihood is that McDaniels gets a similar level of latitude, certainly enough time to be able to see his vision for the team materialize.

From there, we’ll know how much McDaniels has learned from his mistakes. And he’ll possibly show it by reviving a very talented but injury-plagued quarterback in Andrew Luck. You’d imagine that his impending return was a selling point.

Ultimately, if McDaniels proves to be a legit head coach, then perhaps he can rocket the Colts back to the forefront of the AFC conversation. Dungy certainly believes in that possibility.

— By Matt Dolloff,

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at