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Josh McDaniels: Stevan Ridley ‘needs to do a better job of holding onto the ball’

09.09.13 at 3:13 pm ET

FOXBORO — Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels knows how talented fumble-prone running back Stevan Ridley is.

He also knows that he won’t see the field if he can’t find a way to stop drop the ball.

Ridley lost the ball twice Sunday, and was fortunate that only one was ruled a fumble. He lost two of four fumbles in the regular season in 2012 and was drilled during the AFC championship and lost a fumble to the Ravens. He fumbled twice at the end of the 2011 season and was benched for the AFC championship and Super Bowl.

“I think you try to make decisions based on what you feel like is best for the team at each individual time,” McDaniels said during Monday’s conference call with reporters. “[Sunday], we made the choice to go with Shane and LeGarrette. Stevan needs to do a better job of holding onto the ball, and he knows that.”

Still, that one fumble resulted in a likely 14-point swing in the game. Despite that, the Patriots managed to overcome the turnover and win. The Patriots turned to Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount the rest of the game.

But now, there’s an added factor – the broken left wrist of Shane Vereen. Injury or no injury, McDaniels knows he has to find a way to help Vereen hold onto the ball.

“We will work hard with him on that, and he’€™ll work hard as well to make sure that we don’€™t do that anymore, but I think any decision on the future or what is going to happen this week or next week, I don’€™t think those have been made yet,” McDaniels said. “Our job as coaches is to work with our players to improve the things that they might not be doing as well as we want them to do, and to try and get better. Ultimately, we will try to play the best guys that give us the best chances to win.”

Here is the rest of McDaniels conference call from Monday:

Q: Where are you right now in terms of reviewing what went down yesterday versus plowing ahead here for a Thursday game?

JM: Pretty much when you have these short weeks, you have a chance to get the film watched quickly, start that on the way home actually yesterday and get that done. You know, you’€™ve got to move on, so we’€™ve already graded the tape and we’€™ll make our corrections and the points that need to be made off the tape and head right into the Jets today.

Q: When you grade out your offense at this time of the year, is it basically held to the same standard as you might in Week 12?

JM: You grade the offense or any individual player or play or scheme consistently. Which is, you always want them to do things right, and they’€™re all trying to do them right. So, I think as long as that’€™s the normal procedure for looking at your performance either as an individual or collectively as a unit, then you can always continue to make corrections and improve and get better, and that’€™s certainly what we’€™ll try to do this week. You always have a chance after any game, whether it’€™s at the beginning of the year or middle or the end, preseason, to improve on any performance, because certainly there’€™s always going to be things that you can do better.

Q: What were your thoughts on the team’€™s passing attack yesterday vs. Buffalo?

JM: I think we did some decent things. Certainly had good production on third down, which is always a critical element of the game. [We] made some key catches there on that down and in the second half especially. We had some chunk plays that we were able to create. I don’€™t remember the total number, but I think it was eight or nine plays over 20 yards or over 19 yards, yesterday in the game, which you always try to look for opportunities to do that. Then, certainly, we missed some opportunities that we did have. Whether it was a down the field play, or an intermediate type route or some short ones, we missed some opportunities to capitalize on some opportunities in the pass game too. So, like I said, very rarely is it going to be perfect. You need to correct the things that we need to correct and go out there and try to improve this week.

Q: If you just look at the stat sheet, it might look like a very strong performance. Did you expect some growing pains, and do you kind of chalk it up to that?

JM: We’€™re worried about trying to win and get better. We know that there’€™re some players on our offense that are gaining experience each week and that there are plenty of players on our offense that have plenty of experience already. Our standard is high: we want to play good offense and take care of the football and maintain our balance, score in the red zone and convert on third down. Those things are never going to change. That’€™s what we practice for, that’€™s what we prepare for, that’€™s what our players are trying to do, and that’€™s what we need to coach them to do. We can coach and improve this week, and that’€™s what our goal and focus is going to be every week.

Q: Looking forward to the Jets, I’€™m sure there’€™s a little bit of carryover from the Bills defense to Rex’€™s defense. What do you see as the connections between the two defenses?

JM: Well you know Mike [Pettine] worked for Rex [Ryan] and there are, I’€™d say, some elements that are similar certainly. I always think that preparation for Rex’€™s defense is unique and different from basically everybody you play. He is very willing to change and make adjustments and give you things and looks that you haven’€™t seen before. This year will be no different. They’€™re doing some different things that certainly [we] didn’€™t see or practice for [against] Buffalo. We’€™re going to need to be prepared and ready for some different things, and I’€™m sure there are going to be some things that happen on Thursday night that we didn’€™t prepare for. He has always presented a good challenge offensively for us, and I’€™m expecting no different this week. They are well coached. They have good players and a good scheme and he certainly knows exactly what he is doing. We have a lot of familiarity with each other in our offense, their defense, but each game seems to have a different flavor of its own. Playing on a short week certainly adds a different element to that as well.

Q: The Jets held Doug Martin to 2.7 yards per carry. Can you describe the challenge annually running against the Jets defense, particularly after what you saw yesterday?

JM: Well they’€™ve always been a physical group and this year is absolutely no different. They have big guys up front; it’€™s a big front. They’€™ve got big outside linebackers with [Calvin] Pace and [Quinton] Coples playing out there. They’€™ve got good safeties that will fill down in there and tackle too. It’€™s always a great challenge to run the ball or throw it against this defense. We don’€™t anticipate anything being different this week.

Q: How much of a benefit is it to have an experienced quarterback like Tom Brady on a short week?

JM: I think anybody that plays on your offense that has experience, or on defense for that matter, anybody that’€™s playing on your unit that has experience with the group you are going to play against, that obviously helps. And then some familiarity with the scheme or how we’€™ve been defended in the past, certainly you can use that to some degree as well. Tom has had a lot of games against this defense, a lot of games against Coach Ryan’€™s unit, and this is not going to be different in that regard. Like I said, every game against this team presents different challenges or changes that you may not have prepared for or practiced against and I would expect the same on Thursday night. Whether it is a short week or a long week, I think it’€™s a good thing to have Tom Brady as your quarterback.

Read More: Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots, nfl, Shane Vereen



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