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Jimmy Garoppolo is ready to be ‘consistently good, not occasionally great’ 06.17.14 at 5:11 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo has been an eager learner during Patriots OTAs and minicamp. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Jimmy Garoppolo has been an eager learner during Patriots OTAs and minicamp. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Jimmy Garoppolo is getting up to speed with the high-powered Patriots offense with each passing day. These days include two-hour sessions during minicamp outside Gillette Stadium.

The rookie quarterback out of Eastern Illinois was as sharp Tuesday in the opening of minicamp as he has been in the 10 previous practices during OTAs, connecting with Jeremy Johnson on a long touchdown pass late in the workout.

“It was a good read,” Garoppolo said before cracking a smile of confidence. “It was just one of those things, you see safeties rotate, you get your eyes in the right place and you have to have efficient eyes. I did that on that play.

“It’s a day-by-day process. I went out there and had a good day today,” Garoppolo said.

Garoppolo is obviously working behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett. But for the second straight week, Garoppolo got all of the second team snaps as Ryan Mallett was off the practice field and inside the field house while the team help minicamp practice outside in the heat. As for the heat of battling for the back-up job behind Brady, Garoppolo said things couldn’t be going much better.

“Without a doubt, Tom does a great job of just going out there,” Garoppolo said. “Guys look to him as a coach on the field and that’s what you want in a quarterback. So, just watching and learning, not so much what he tells me but just watching his mannerisms, I’ve learned a lot.”

Garoppolo said he is, by no means, thinking of being Brady’s heir apparent several years down the road.

“It’s just one of those things that you can’t really focus on that,” he added. “If you’re focused on that, you’re focused on the wrong thing. My main focus was coming out here and being very consistent, day in and day out. It’s a grind. You have to do good each and every day.”

Garoppolo said he’s excited to be working with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

“It’s awesome. Josh, he’s just like me,” Garoppolo said. “He’s just an energetic guy, loves the offense, loves football and he’ll go out there and have a great time every day.”

As for comparing this to workouts and practices at Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo said it really doesn’t.

“I don’t know if you could even compare the two,” he said. “It’s night and day. We come out here. It’s gorgeous out today, had a great day of practice. What else would you rather be doing?

“It’s a process, for sure. It’s just one of those things you have to take it day-by-day. Each day is different and you have to be consistently good, not occasionally great. You have to come out here and do your best every single day and let the coaches see what you can do. It’s very fast but that’s what Coach Belichick wants it to be. He wants to have great tempo in and out of the huddle and moving from station to station. I think we did a good job of that today.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Eastern Illinois, Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh McDaniels
Free agent snapshot: Eric Decker 01.30.14 at 9:36 pm ET
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Eric Decker was one of Denver's leading receivers in 2013. (AP)

Eric Decker was one of Denver’s leading receivers in 2013. (AP)

When free agency begins in early March, there are a handful of players across the league who could appeal to New England. Over the next two weeks — with the understanding that the status of these players could change because of the franchise or transition tag –€” we’€™ll look at 10 possibilities for the Patriots to consider. We have to stress that these guys aren’€™t necessarily considered the elite of the free agent class –€” instead, they are players we think would be a good fit in New England. We started our series with looks at Anquan Boldin, Emmanuel Sanders and Dennis Pitta. Today, it’€™s Eric Decker.

ERIC DECKER
Position: Wide receiver
Age: 26 (will turn 27 on March 15)
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 214 pounds

The skinny: You want to get back at a conference rival for swiping your elite-level pass catcher in free agency? Swipe theirs! OK, so it wouldn’t be as easy as that, but the idea of New England inking Decker a year after the Broncos picked up Wes Welker would be interesting, to say the least. Decker — who was taken three spots before the Patriots drafted Taylor Price in 2010 — finished the 2013 season with a career-best 87 catches for 1,288 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, and will hit the market at the perfect time, particularly if he’€™s able to help Denver win on Sunday. He’€™s durable (he hasn’€™t missed a game the last three years), has some positional versatility (he’€™s lined up at both the X and the Z while with the Broncos), and he has some value as a special teamer (he worked as a punt and kick returner relatively early in his career with the Broncos before the job was given to Trindon Holliday).

By the numbers: 63. Of Decker’€™s 87 catches in 2013, 63 of them went for first down, a rate of 72.4 percent and good enough for ninth in the league. Decker was also in the top 10 in receptions of 20 yards or more (19, tied for ninth) and receiving touchdowns (11, tied for eighth overall).

Why it would work: Several reasons: One, the Broncos have several expiring contracts — 17 unrestricted free agents, to be specific — and would be hard-pressed to retain them all, including Decker. (In that same vein, it appears unlikely Denver would be interested in franchising him.) And two, Decker’€™s background with Josh McDaniels (McDaniels was his head coach with the Broncos when he was drafted by Denver) could create a nice comfort zone for the receiver. In good cases and bad, McDaniels has brought several pass catchers with him from stops in Denver and St. Louis — Decker could be the next McDaniels import to sign with New England.

Why it might not work: Money. A distinctly lackluster class of free agent wide receivers could drive up Decker’€™s asking price, and right out of the Patriots’€™ price range.

Quote: “He did draft me, and I’€™m very thankful that he gave me the opportunity to be playing in the NFL, especially with such a great organization like Denver. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a coach. He’s a brilliant mind, offensively. I’€™m sure, like any coach, he’€™s excited and he’€™s happy for the guys that he drafted.”€ — Decker, speaking this week about the impact McDaniels had on his career

Our take: It seems like something of a long-shot — after all, a guy who has had 216 catches over the last three seasons will draw plenty of interest on the open market, especially when you consider that it’ll be something of a depressed year for receivers’ contracts. Throw in the fact that the Patriots aren’t expected to have a ton of dough under the cap this spring, and it feels like Decker is a little out of their range. But Decker clearly has an affinity for McDaniels, and the Patriots offensive coordinator has managed to find a way to get many of the guys he favored at previous stops to Foxboro the last few years, a group that includes Brandon Lloyd, Michael Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells, Danny Amendola and Greg Salas. It’€™ll be interesting to see that if the Patriots are going to be involved in the pursuit of Decker, how much of an influence McDaniels could have.

Read More: Eric Decker, free agent snapshot, Josh McDaniels, Wes Welker
Once considered a failure in Denver, Josh McDaniels can find small measure of redemption in Broncos’ success at 12:43 pm ET
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McDaniels had a stormy run on the Denver sidelines in his first head coaching stint. (AP)

McDaniels had a stormy run on the Denver sidelines in his first head coaching stint, but did well when it came to constructing the roster. (AP)

This has to be a strange week for Josh McDaniels.

On Sunday, the Patriots offensive coordinator will sit and watch the Broncos face the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. And while he’s still remembered around the Rocky Mountains as the guy who drafted Tim Tebow — and inspired some of the strangest Photoshop jobs of all-time — he’s also responsible for putting many of the pieces together for the current AFC champs.

In 2009 and 2010 drafts, McDaniels and the Broncos front office were responsible for the drafting or signing of several key players who remain on the roster. Wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, running back Knowshon Moreno, defensive end Robert Ayers, offensive lineman Zane Beadles and punter Britton Colquitt were all brought in on McDaniels’ watch, and all have played a sizable role in helping Denver reach the Super Bowl.

In all, of the 53 players on Denver’s active roster, 10 of them were acquired while McDaniels was head coach. That includes a major part of the passing game — three of Peyton Manning‘s top 5 targets this season were acquired by Denver while McDaniels was head coach. In all, 239 of the 461 passes completed by Manning this year went to McDaniels’ draft picks in Thomas (92 catches), Decker (87 catches) and Moreno (60 catches).

“He did draft me, and I’€™m very thankful that he gave me the opportunity to be playing in the NFL, especially with such a great organization like Denver,” Decker said of McDaniels. “I’€™ve got a lot of respect for him as a coach. He’€™s a brilliant mind, offensively. I’€™m sure, like any coach, he’€™s excited and he’€™s happy for the guys that he drafted.”

Beadles has been a Pro Bowl offensive lineman, and played a major role in helping clear the way for Moreno, a back who has been a work-in-progress over much of his first five years in the league. The 12th overall selection in the 2009 draft, he struggled in 2011 and 2012 before enjoying a career renaissance this season, where he posted his first 1,000-yard season. He ended the year with 241 carries for 1,038 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

This week, he paid tribute to McDaniels for taking a chance on him when he recalled what things were like for him on draft day.

“€œThat was a special moment, just to be able to celebrate that with my family and friends. We were all there hanging out watching it on TV, so just for them to experience that definitely meant a lot to me,” Moreno said. “Just for Coach McDaniels giving me the opportunity to play in the league and try to fight for a position. Even though you make it, even though you get drafted or whatever it is, maybe you’€™re not drafted, you’ve still got to compete. You’ve still got to get better each day just to have a spot on the team. I’€™m really thankful to (have gotten) the opportunity.”

McDaniels had more than his share of missteps while in Denver. He clashed with quarterback Jay Cutler, as well as wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and was the first champion of the Tim Tebow Experiment. But even in many of those instances, he was able to make something positive out of a bad situation: With one of the picks he acquired in the trade of Cutler to the Bears, he acquired Ayers, a defensive end who had 5.5 sacks this past season with the Broncos.

Ultimately, McDaniels tenure in Denver had more negative than positive, as he finished with an 11-17 mark and was fired midway through his second season as head coach. And the fact joshmcdanielssucks.com is still up and running, as well as a “Fire Josh McDaniels” Facebook page (with 323 likes) is still operational, speaks to the level of dislike there is out there in the Rockies for McDaniels and his time with the Broncos. But if Decker, Thomas and Moreno are among those celebrating amidst the confetti at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night, the man who made it possible for them to be with the Broncos in the first place needs to be acknowledged, at least with a new Photoshop.

Read More: Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Josh McDaniels, Knowshon Moreno
Browns hire Bills DC Mike Pettine, which means Josh McDaniels will stick with Patriots 01.23.14 at 4:03 pm ET
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The Browns officially named Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine on Thursday, which puts an end to the possibility — at least for now — that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will leave New England.

McDaniels was interviewed for the job earlier this month, but turned down Cleveland. However, news over the last few days indicated that after being spurned by several other parties, the Browns had refocused their attention on McDaniels. That was apparently put to rest of Thursday when Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam announced the hiring of Pettine.

New England had already lost three coaches since its loss in the AFC title game, as offensive line coach Dante Scarneccha, linebackers coach Pepper Johnson and tight ends coach George Godsey have all announced they will leave the organization.

Read More: Josh McDaniels, Mike Pettine,
Report: Josh McDaniels possibly back in play as candidate for Browns head coaching job 01.22.14 at 11:43 pm ET
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The same week the Patriots lost offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and linebackers coach Pepper Johnson, a new report indicates that the Browns have a renewed interest in hiring New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for their vacant head coaching job.

Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com reported Wednesday night McDaniels and the Browns have had “more conversations,” and that McDaniels is “possibly back in the mix” for the position.

McDaniels acknowledged earlier this month that he was interviewed for the Cleveland opening but publicly bowed out of consideration, saying that he was going to stick with the Patriots.

“I’€™ll definitely be here,” McDaniels said on Jan. 14. “I think all it means is that, you know, I made the decision that this is the right time for me to be here. I’€™m really happy here. … I’ve said that numerous times. There’€™s not really much else to it. I don’€™t think it’€™s … you know, it’€™s a process you go through sometimes and you ultimately have to make choices based on what’€™s best for you and your family. That’€™s what I try to do.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Dante Scarnecchia, Josh McDaniels, Pepper Johnson,
Tom Brady says ‘there’s really no motivation’ for Josh McDaniels to beat his former team 01.16.14 at 10:29 pm ET
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Josh McDaniels returns to Denver for the first time since being fired midway through the 2010 season. (AP)

Josh McDaniels returns to Denver for the first time since being fired midway through the 2010 season. (AP)

FOXBORO — One of the underplayed storylines lost this week in the 15th meeting between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning is the return of Josh McDaniels to Denver for the first time with the Patriots since being fired 12 games into the 2010 season.

But as Brady explained Thursday, there’s good reason for that: McDaniels has been too busy worrying about winning this weekend to think about bitter feeling from the end of his head coaching stint in Denver, a run that saw him lose 17 of his final 22 games.

McDaniels started out his career in Denver in spectacular fashion. The former Patriots offensive coordinator won his first game miraculously, as Brandon Stokley grabbed a deflected pass and raced 87 yards for a touchdown in the final seconds to beat the Bengals, 12-7, on opening day. Four games later, McDaniels was dancing all over the field after his Broncos beat his mentor, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots, 20-17, in overtime. The Broncos won their next game to improve to 6-0. They then lost eight of their final 10 games to finish 8-8 and missed the playoffs. He started 2010 with a 3-9 mark and was fired.

Brady downplayed any visible motivation for McDaniels this week during practice.

“He’€™s always been very focused,” Brady said. “We haven’€™t talked ever too long about his situation there. I know it’€™s something he dealt with and that’€™s in the past for him. He’€™s always got great focus this week. There’€™s no really motivation for our team other than trying to go and win a game and certainly win the biggest game of the year that we’€™ve played to this point. That’€™s all the motivation that we’€™re going to need.

“He’€™s always focused like he is every week. He’€™s one of the best coaches that I’€™ve ever been around and why I love being coached by him because he brings it every day. He has great enthusiasm. He has a great understanding of what they’€™re trying to defensively, he has a great understanding of our skill set offensively, what we’€™re trying to build toward. He’€™s a great motivator. He’€™s fired up, as we all are.”

As for Brady’s own preparation, the quarterback says he’s been able to overcome missing Wednesday practices before. Part of that comes from work in the classroom and taking “mental reps” in practice but Brady admits the clock is ticking this week.

“Everything is important at this point,” Brady said. “You have six and-a-half days to prepare and you’€™re on the clock. It’€™s really a matter of us focusing on all the details, attention to the meetings and the walkthroughs. Certainly when you get onto the field, the execution has to be really good.

“The guys are focused and Coach Belichick certainly challenges us every week. When you play against one of the best teams in the league, you realize there’€™s very little margin of error. You can’€™t go out there and turn it over and not be good on third down, not be good in the red area and think you’€™re going to go in and beat one of the best football teams on the road. There’€™s a reason that they’€™re at this point; there’€™s a reason why we’€™re at this point. We have to be ready to go out and play our very best to hopefully advance.”

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Read More: AFC Championship, Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots
Josh McDaniels confirms: ‘I’ll definitely be here’ in New England with Patriots in 2014 01.14.14 at 4:33 pm ET
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Josh McDaniels (hat) will be back with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in 2014.  (AP)

Josh McDaniels (hat) will be back with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in 2014. (AP)

Not that it should surprise anyone but Josh McDaniels has confirmed the obvious – he’ll be back with the Patriots in 2014.

The Patriots offensive coordinator confirmed that he withdrew his name from consideration for the head coaching vacancy with the Cleveland Browns on the same day Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles did likewise.

On Tuesday, during a conference call, McDaniels shed some light on the reason why he’s staying in New England.

“Well, I’€™ll definitely be here. I think all it means is that, you know, I made the decision that this is the right time for me to be here,” McDaniels said. “I’€™m really happy here ‘€“ I’€™ve said that numerous times. There’€™s not really much else to it. I don’€™t think it’€™s ‘€“ you know it’€™s a process you go through sometimes and you ultimately have to make choices based on what’€™s best for you and your family. That’€™s what I try to do.”

There is the possibility that one of his key weapons may not be staying around with McDaniels as Julian Edelman is a free agent after the season.

It’s been under McDaniels’ tutelage that Edelman has grown into one of the more feared slot receivers in the NFL, taking the chance to replace Wes Welker and running with it all the way to a likely lucrative free agency prize.

“Well, Julian has always had great ability. He’€™s a guy that has speed and can do a lot of different things€“ versatility,” McDaniels said. “Certainly, I wasn’€™t here when we first got him the first years that he was here, and have had an opportunity to really get to know him the last couple years. His opportunities have certainly increased and he is a guy that embraces whatever role you give him each week.

“He’€™s capable of playing on the perimeter of the offense and he has for us. He’€™s also unselfish and will do whatever we ask of him in any role, whether that’€™s to be a clear-out guy, block the secondary in the running game, whatever it may be, and he’€™s always had a great attitude towards his work and his preparation. I just see a guy that’€™s driven to be a great player. He’€™s always tried to be the best he could be.

“He’€™s certainly had opportunities presented to him this year that he’€™s taken advantage of. I think he’€™s really led our receiving group with a tremendous amount of toughness, consistency. He practices hard, prepares hard, he’€™s on top of his game plan. He understands the defenses that we play and the players he’€™s going to compete against. I think he’€™s just really made himself a very well-rounded player that certainly has had a very productive year for us.”

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Read More: Cleveland Browns, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots, nfl
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