Colts’ pursuit of Josh McDaniels remains on hold following Pats’ comeback

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots reacts after winning the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The wait continues for the Indianapolis Colts.

The team’s pursuit of Josh McDaniels as its next head coach was extended two more weeks after the New England Patriots chased down the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in Sunday’s AFC Championship game in Foxborough, Mass.

According to sources, a Jan. 3 meeting between the Colts and McDaniels resulted in the two sides being “close’’ to an agreement. McDaniels reportedly has been working on his coaching staff, settling on Dallas linebackers coach Matt Eberflus as his defensive coordinator and Oakland quarterbacks coach Jake Peetz as his offensive coordinator.

However, nothing can be finalized as long as the Patriots remain alive in the postseason.

The next step in the process likely is a second meeting this week, which probably would include owner Jim Irsay. That follow-up is allowed by the NFL in the bye week prior to Super Bowl LII, Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

By virtue of New England’s dramatic comeback – it trailed 20-10 heading into the fourth quarter – the earliest the Colts can announce a deal with McDaniels is Feb. 5.

General manager Chris Ballard has spearheaded the search for Chuck Pagano’s successor, and Irsay all but said he would rubber stamp his GM’s decision.

“The general manager is in charge of leading the search . . . making his recommendations,’’ Irsay said earlier this month. “I’m sure there hasn’t been a time where I haven’t followed the recommendations of what the general manager had recommended to me.

“Chris is going to go out, do a lot of the heavy lifting. I’m going to meet the top candidates.’’

The Colts’ attraction to McDaniels, at least from an offensive standpoint, was showcased in the Patriots’ comeback against a Jacksonville defense that ranked No. 2 in fewest yards and points allowed during the regular season.

New England trailed 20-10 after three quarters. Brady was playing despite suffering a serious cut on his right thumb last week in practice and the Patriots lost all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski to a concussion in the second quarter.

Even so, Brady passed for 158 yards and two touchdowns to Danny Amendola in the fourth quarter to thwart Jacksonsville’s upset bid. One of his big completions was a 31-yard hookup with former Colts’ first-round pick Phillip Dorsett in the fourth quarter with New England trailing 20-10.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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