|Josh McDaniels talks about missed opportunities and offensive rhythm||10.22.12 at 7:11 pm ET|
Despite the fact that the Patriots picked up the 29-26 win over the Jets on Sunday, there were several missed opportunities for the offense, which didn’t capitalize on many New York mistakes — particularly early on — that could have potentially put the game away.
In the second quarter, the Jets had a safety, an ill-timed penalty that gave the ball back to New England following a Patriots’ punt and a turnover (a pick by rookie Alfonzo Dennard on a horribly thrown ball by Mark Sanchez), but could still only manage a six-point halftime lead.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talked about the missed opportunities with the media on Monday afternoon, saying New England has to do a better job taking advantage of those situations.
“We had some missed opportunities,” McDaniels said on a conference call with reporters. “We had some errors that we can correct and fix and that we need to, so we can continue to keep drives alive and be more productive during the entire course of the game. I think that’s a good thing for our team to see and we did enough things situationally right to be there and to have an opportunity to win it in overtime. At the same time, there’s plenty of room for us to get better and that’s all of us — coaches, players — and I think our guys will respond to that.”
McDaniels also addressed the second-half slowdowns that have plagued the New England offense through much of the first half of the season. While the Patriots were able to put together a sharp drive late in the game to force overtime, there were still large stretches in the third and fourth quarter where New England was unable to develop much of an offensive rhythm
“It’s never really one thing,” McDaniels said. “I think yesterday we had the offensive pass interference call there, I believe on our first play when we got the ball back with maybe five and a half minutes to go. That put us in a situation where – anytime it’s first-and-20, those aren’t easy situations to overcome against a defense that plays the way the Jets do.
“I think no matter what we choose to do, what mode we’re in, whether we’re using our up-tempo, whether we’re huddling, whether we’re trying to run the football, throw it, I think it really comes down to trying to make the best call we can and hopefully putting the players in the right situation to be successful and going out and executing in those pressure situations, which is really what it is.”
Here are some more highlights of McDaniels’ Q&A with reporters:
We saw that Shane Vereen got the start in the backfield yesterday. When you are preparing for the first offensive series of each game, how do you decide which running back will start?
“I think a lot of things could determine what the actual play of the game actually is. I don’t think we ever spend too much time talking about the very first play of the game. The guys know it’s going to come from a certain grouping of things, but like all the rest of our skill positions – there are one tight end sets that have [Rob] Gronkowski, there are one tight end sets that have [Aaron] Hernandez, there are three tight end sets that have three of the four guys in there and then we have some other ones, and the same is true for the backs. Yesterday, the way we started the game, we kind of had a rotation based on the grouping that was on the field and it just so happened we started the game with that grouping and Shane was in there. Any one of our backs could start the game. We have confidence in all of them. I believe even in Seattle, Aaron started in the backfield as the single back. There are a lot of different things that go into that. Hopefully we’re trying to make a good call to begin the game and have a positive play and get our first drive of the game going. It could be field position, did we start after a turnover on defense? Are we backed up? Did we have a kickoff return that gave us good field position? There are a lot of different things that could go into that – whether we’re going to go no-huddle, whether we’re not going to go no-huddle. What the defense is when you put the grouping out there could essentially be another factor. Shane is one of those guys and did some productive things for us yesterday.”
Brandon Lloyd was limited yesterday with only one catch and a couple of drops. Why did he struggle and have you seen struggles like this from him in the past?
“No, I mean each game is different, but we gave him the chore of really having an opportunity to go down the field on some of those different play-action type plays and you’re right, a couple of those catches would have been great catches. The funny thing is we always anticipate that he’s going to do it because he has so many times previously and I think he will going forward. I think it was one of those days where we were close on some deep throws. There were some missed opportunities there. I’m sure Brandon would like to make some of those plays and we have to work hard in practice. I think that’s where the timing and chemistry and those deep throws that obviously have a lower percentage chance of working. You really have to try to work hard in practice as much as you can in those couple days you have each week to try to master some of those things and get them to improve as best we can. I don’t think that has been a normal thing for Brandon to go like that and have one catch out of so many different targets, but it’s not just him. There are some other things we can do better to help some of those plays and situations. We have to do a good job of trying to make sure that everybody’s targeted inside the numbers, outside the numbers, down field and try to reduce as much offensive stress as we can and Brandon is definitely going to be a part of that.”
Are you still trying to figure out what plays will work with each offensive group? Is it hard to simplify the offense down to the few things you do really well?
“I think that you always try to evaluate what the team does well and hopefully we’re making as many good decisions about what to do with our players and our offense as we can all the time. I think you’ll also learn as you go through this portion of the season, you learn each week if you, as you go, some of the things that, there are always some things you learn from each game, whether it be a new package that may have a chance to be productive for you or less of something else and more of this. I also think that there are so many factors that go into each week that it’s a different defense, like the way we attacked Seattle, it would have been hard to say that’s exactly the way to attack the Jets because they’re so different in terms of the way they play and the schemes they use and the player strengths they have on defense. You try to take the things that you do best that make sense to use against the team you’re playing and then try to do them the best you can that week. I think there’s always another factor that goes into it, which would be an in-game adjustment because I know there are certain games we go into expecting to be pressured a lot and maybe we don’t get blitzed. Or there’s a certain game we expect a lot of coverage and we get pressured a lot. In those situations, you may have to change what you anticipated would be a strength for your team as you go into it and try to do something else. It’s Week 7 of the season, going into Week 8. There are always things you can learn about your team so that hopefully you’re playing your best football as you head into the last half to last quarter of the season. So hopefully you’re really peaking at the right time. I hope I answered that.”
How much is Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez’s health affecting the efficiency of the offense at this point?
“Well every player that we’re playing with we anticipate them and expect them to be able to carry out their responsibilities on the plays they are out there on. There is no team in the National Football League at this point that is healthy anymore. There are a lot of guys that deal and play with injuries and I have a lot of respect and appreciation for every guy that does it. We just have to do a great job of executing whatever scheme or whatever assignment we’re asked to do. Those two are guys who have done a nice job of trying to do their assignments and showing a lot of toughness and all the rest of it. They’re two of many and at this point, like I said, whether a guy is a little bit limited, whether he’s out there all the time, whether he’s not out there, whatever it may be, if they’re capable of playing in the game to a certain point, maybe it’s a limited number of snaps, maybe it’s not. I think you have to put them out there and expect them to do their assignments well.”
With the Patriots set to face the team you previously coached, what do you take away from your experience with the St. Louis Rams?
“It’s always interesting to see someone else, and when I say someone, I mean that there are a lot of people in charge in every organization in different aspects of it. I think it was a learning experience to see how other people view trying to run their organization and do it successfully. Coach [Steve] Spagnuolo, Billy Devaney and Kevin Demoff, they had a certain way to do things and it was different than what I had experienced before and I’d say that’s pretty much in every area. But I would say that’s probably common among most teams in the NFL, that it’s very different. Whether it was the way they ran practice, how they carried out their walkthrough, the structure of their day during the course of the season, how we did the draft, what we did in terms of our preparation for the offseason although we had the lockout last year, just so many different ways to approach it and to try to be successful and certainly the people that I worked for last year, they have had a history of being successful in a number of different organizations and I have a great deal of respect for the way they worked. It was, it was a valuable experience for me to learn and see how other people do things and see how dramatically different it could be, how many different ways there to try to be successful doing this thing, which is obviously a very hard thing to do in this league because it’s so competitive. But, a lot of good players there… This defense is going to present a lot of different challenges than we’ve faced in certain weeks here, a little bit of a different style. Coach [Jeff] Fisher is a great coach. I obviously didn’t have the chance to coach with him there, but I’ve coached against him before. He does a great job with his team, his defense is aggressive. There are a lot of players on the defense that I’m familiar with and we expect it to be a great challenge there in London.”
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