The Cleveland Browns have received permission from the New England Patriots to interview offensive coordinator and Canton, Ohio, native Josh McDaniels for their head-coaching vacancy, a league source confirmed Tuesday.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity, because the Browns are not announcing interviews.
According to NFL rules, the interview must take place before the completion of the wild-card playoff games Sunday because the Patriots made the postseason and have a bye. The rules also state a contract cannot be agreed upon until a candidate's team is eliminated from the playoffs.
The Browns began asking for permission to interview McDaniels and other candidates Monday. They fired coach Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night after just one season on the job. The team went 4-12 and finished with a seven-game losing streak and 10 defeats in the last 11 games.
Under McDaniels' guidance, the Patriots (12-4) finished the regular season with the NFL's seventh-ranked offense (384.5 yards per game).
"Josh is the best offensive coach I could ever imagine," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told Boston radio station WEEI Monday morning. "He's so prepared. He's so confident in what he does. He figures out a way each week to get us in the best position as players to win.
"I have so much respect for him and what he does for me, what he does for our team. He's just a great coach. He's got a lot of poise. He's got a lot of discipline. I hope he doesn't go anywhere. I'd love for him to coach me the rest of my life. But that's just the way it is. He's one of my best friends, and I love having him."
McDaniels, 37, spent the 2009-10 seasons as the head coach of the Denver Broncos. He compiled a record of 11-17 before being fired following Week 13.
His brief tenure was marred by a spying scandal. Broncos videographer Steve Scarnecchia violated league rules by videotaping the San Francisco 49ers during a practice Oct. 30, 2010, in London, and the NFL fined McDaniels $50,000 for failing to report the transgression.
Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi has gotten to know McDaniels through his long-standing friendship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who worked with Lombardi in Cleveland from 1991-95. The connection is one of the reasons several national reporters have speculated that McDaniels is the Browns' top target during the search for their seventh full-time coach since 1999.
When Lombardi worked as an analyst for NFL Network in 2010, he wrote a column for NFL.com defending McDaniels after the Broncos fired him.
"Firing McDaniels 28 games into his tenure as the head coach is bad for both parties," Lombardi wrote. "It wasn't enough time for the team to be fully developed, or enough time for McDaniels to grow into the job.
"I believe McDaniels will one day be a successful head coach. I believe this because I know what it takes to be successful in the league. ... McDaniels will learn from his tenure in Denver, just as Belichick learned from his time in Cleveland, and some other owner willing to change will benefit greatly."
The Browns were also granted permission to interview Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, another league source confirmed. The Seahawks (13-3) are in the playoffs and have a bye, so the Browns will interview Quinn, 43, before wild-card weekend ends.
The Seahawks finished their first regular season with Quinn as a coordinator with the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense (273.6 yards allowed per game). Quinn coached defensive line for the Seahawks from 2009-10 before leaving to become the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida, where his defenses ranked in the top 10 in the nation in 2011 and 2012. He's in his 11th season as an NFL assistant.
The Browns and Minnesota Vikings received permission to interview Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the Arizona Republic reported.
Bowles' first season with the Cardinals (10-6) ended with their defense ranked sixth in the league (317.4 yards allowed per game). He's in his 14th season as an NFL assistant. Bowles, 50, coached defensive backs for the Browns from 2001-04.
Interviewing Bowles would satisfy the Rooney Rule. The rule requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate before hiring a head coach or top personnel executive.
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