|Josh McDaniels: With or without Rob Gronkowski, our approach remains same||12.10.13 at 4:05 pm ET|
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels acknowledged Tuesday the New England offense has some experience when it comes to playing without Rob Gronkowski — the big tight end has missed most of 13 games over the last year-plus — and the group will have to rely on that background going forward.
“Any time you lose a player like that — or you can’t use a player like that — you need to put your time into a few different things, and other people have to play different roles,” McDaniels said of Gronkowski, who will now be out for the rest of the 2013 season because of a knee injury. “You play offense a little differently, and we do have experience doing that.
“We did it at the beginning of this year for a significant number of weeks, we did it in the offseason, we did it last year during the course of the season as well, so we’ve experienced this before. I think for that reason, we kind of have an idea of exactly what we need to use and how to kind of formulate our game plan to max out our strengths and try to make up for the loss of a very unique player.”
As was the case when the Patriots lost Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo on the defensive side of the ball, McDaniels said that the job of trying to replace Gronkowski won’t fall solely to one individual.
“I think the thing that we rely on the most from one week to the next has always been trying to figure out what part of our offensive system to use to maximize the strengths of the players that we have available for us that week against the strengths of the opponent that we’re playing that week as well,” McDaniels said. “For us, the formula’s not going to change.”
At various points of the 2013 season, the New England offense has had to make do without Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon, and in each case, the group has had to adjust accordingly. While making a point to say that Gronkowski is an undeniable talent, McDaniels said Tuesday the overriding philosophy will be the same.
“We have the players that we have, we love the guys that we have to play offense with — we’re just missing one of them that’s certainly a very good player,” McDaniels said. “So we go to work, and we figure out exactly what the right formula for us is this week to try to win the game against the Dolphins, and then we’ll worry about next week next week.”
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|Josh McDaniels expresses ‘great confidence’ in Stevan Ridley||11.26.13 at 4:16 pm ET|
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday that despite Stevan Ridley’s recent struggles with ball security, he has “great confidence” in the running back Stevan Ridley. However, he added that Ridley’s issues are just part of a bigger problem when it comes to fumbles.
“When things happen like this, in back-to-back games – or in this case a few games in a row – I think you certainly have to address what you can address in terms of trying to fix the problem,” McDaniels said of Ridley, who has lost fumbles in three straight games and four this season. “I have great confidence in Stevan as a runner. He’s been very productive in our offense. He’s done a lot of things. At the same time, obviously, ball security is the most important factor for our offense and for our team when we have the ball. We have to be part of the solution. We have to work with him.”
McDaniels was quick to point out that Ridley wasn’t the only player who put the ball on the ground Sunday against Denver. The Patriots had six fumbles, and lost three of them.
“He certainly wasn’t the only one that put the ball [on the ground] or got the ball knocked off of him the other night. We had way too many balls out, or balls on the ground, and turned the ball over a significant number of times. We were fortunate to overcome that, which is very rare,” he said. “I think our entire offense, we need to do a better job of taking care of the football, protecting when we have it, and making smart decisions and not giving the defense the opportunity to either strip it off of us, knock it off of us, whatever it may be. That’s a team thing. Our confidence, as an offense, you want to be able to protect the football no matter who you give it to. That’s our goal and that’s our focus, and we’ll work with everybody to try to fix the issues that certainly came up the other night.”
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|Josh McDaniels: Overall offensive execution was lacking against Bengals||10.08.13 at 3:50 pm ET|
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels acknowledged Tuesday the “overall execution” on offense in last Sunday’s loss to the Bengals “wasn’t what we wanted it to be.”
Asked specifically about the number of drops — and whether the inclement conditions played a role — he said it wasn’t just the drops.
“We had some throws that were a little off, and we had some guys that tried to make some tough catches and didn’t come up with them — and that’s football,” he said. “We certainly don’t accept it and we’re not going to just stand there and not try to improve and get better at it every week.
“There’s no magic potion or formula you use, and you certainly try to give them every opportunity during the course of the week to practice the things that they’re going to do on Sunday, and then hopefully those happen to carry over.”
McDaniels was also asked about some of the play-calling, specifically the decision to not run the ball much down the stretch against the Bengals — New England called just six carries in the second half.
“You want to stay balanced on something like that, as much as you can, and I know that some of the situations that come up in the game certainly skew those numbers,” he explained. “We had had two two-minute situations there in the second quarter and then a few situations certainly towards the end of the game where we’re in much more of a pass mode. But our intention is never to really get out of whack in terms of run/pass ratio on any of those things, and certainly that’s something that I will always try to maintain a good balance on. If I ever get out of balance, I definitely want to try to bring it back to as close to 50/50 or somewhere near there as I can.”
Here are some of the rest of the highlights from the Q&A:
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|How much will working with blitz-happy Mike Nolan help Josh McDaniels this week?||09.24.13 at 7:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When Josh McDaniels was calling the shots in Denver in 2009 as head coach, Mike Nolan was his defensive coordinator.
Now Nolan is in charge of the defense in Atlanta for head coach Mike Smith and the Patriots offensive coordinator will have to scheme against him this week. How much will that history help?
“There are definitely some similarities,” McDaniels said in a conference call Tuesday. “Certainly every year I think that most coaches adapt and evolve and change a few things here or there, so there’s definitely plenty of new things that I’m seeing, and then there’s some things that I’m sure Mike has done for a long time that I’m familiar with that he did there [in Denver].
“There’s a lot of Coach Smith’s, there’s some elements there that I’m sure he’s brought to the whole scheme. By and large, we’re getting ready for a new opponent, a group of players that we haven’t played a lot, and this is going to be a great challenge for us. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us this week to make sure that we familiarize ourselves with this team that we’re going to play on Sunday night.
Nolan has the reputation of using an aggressive blitz package but now with Osi Umenyiora on the defense end and Jonathan Babineaux on the tackle, they’re not as reliant to bring extra bodies to disrupt the passing game. They’ve sacked the quarterback seven times, with five of those coming last Sunday against Ryan Tannehill in Miami. Umenyiora had two while the other three came via a blitz, two by the linebackers and another on a corner blitz.
“I think they have a good blitz package, that’s for sure,” McDaniels said. “They don’t have to blitz to generate pressure on the quarterback. They’ve done a decent job of creating pressure with some of their guys up front, and then they have, I would say, a diverse blitz package, both from their base and their sub defense where you’ll see a lot of different types of players come at the quarterback, whether that’s the linebacking corps, the safeties, the nickel backs, the corners. They’ve all blitzed and they’ve all pressured, and we’re going to need to do a great job of making sure that we follow our rules and are ready for anything that we could see on Sunday because they’ve done a lot of it.
“I would say that it’s probably a great blend of both. Both of them are great defensive coaches. I’ve had an opportunity to work with Mike Nolan and certainly had the chance to coach against both of them on numerous occasions. Their units are always disciplined, they do a great job of disguising, not trying to give you too much information before the ball is snapped, and they don’t give up a lot of big plays and they create turnovers. I think all of those elements are there, you see a lot of different looks from some of their sub packages that they use to try to create some confusion or some uncertainty, and yet they are certainly a disciplined group that plays the scheme well, and you can tell that they’re very well-coached.”
|Josh McDaniels talks about possible return of Rob Gronkowski, impact on offense||09.17.13 at 3:37 pm ET|
With Rob Gronkowski reportedly nearing a return to the field, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday that having the big tight end back would have a major affect on the way the New England offense operates.
“I think any time you have a player that can make the kind of impact that Rob has made in the past, if you have a player like that back, it has to affect your plan — and hopefully only in a positive manner,” McDaniels said on a conference call with reporters. “I don’t know if it would affect the group that we use or not use or whether we would use a certain tempo or not. I don’t know that that would really be impacted, but I definitely think that you would like to have a guy like that on the field as much as you can if he is ready and able to contribute in the way that Rob has always been able to.”
However, McDaniels sounded a note of caution when it comes to trying to figure out how much he’d be able to play if he was available.
“I’m not going about it in that manner,” he said. “Our game plan is going to be set up for the opponent, and it’s hopefully going to be set up in such a way that we can take advantage of some opportunities. The ones that are available at the tight end position would certainly have application for Rob if he happened to play, whenever that is. The more any player that is coming off of a few games away where he is healing or whatever the case may be, the more they play, the more comfortable they are and the more they are in the game, then the more you can start dictating some of the things you would do with him.”
Here are some more highlights of his Q&A with the media on Tuesday.
The conventional wisdom in the NFL is that it is hard for rookie receivers to contribute immediately. Why do you think that is, and how do you think your young receivers are doing relative to that notion?
“Well, I think for any rookie there is always an adjustment period. Whether it is at receiver or any other position, I don’t know that there is a position in the NFL where you can say that rookies come in and it is a simple transition for them to be major contributors on a consistent basis. I wouldn’t say that is just applicable to the receiver position or whatever number you are referring to. But, I think that there is always adjustment, there is always a learning process that goes on and continues to happen from one week to the next during the course of the first year. Our guys are going through that process. They’re working extremely hard to improve, and they have made some plays for us. Certainly we are going to count on them to continue to do that.”
|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.”
|Josh McDaniels on Bills D: ‘They’re not going to give you a lot of easy yards’||09.03.13 at 8:57 pm ET|
While the Bills present a brand new head coach in Doug Marrone this Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, their defensive coordinator is someone very familiar to the Patriots, Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Mike Pettine was the Jets’ defensive coordinator hired in 2009 by Rex Ryan to run the defense that gave Brady and the Patriots fits in the 2010 playoffs. The year before that, Pettine was the man in charge of a defense that led the NFL.
Last year, with Darrelle Revis gone for most of the year with a torn ACL, the Jets defense suffered badly, including 856 yards in two games against the Patriots, highlighted by New England’s 49-19 throttling on Thanksgiving night.
Pettine was not brought back by Ryan after last season but was hired by Marrone to try and do the same with the Bills that he did with the Jets.
“He is a great coach, great coordinator, and it is always a great challenge when you get an opportunity to prepare and compete against one of his defenses,” McDaniels said Tuesday of Pettine. “They are well coached. They’re not going to give you a lot of easy yards. They have the ability to be very multiple when he wants them to be and change up their looks, their packages, their pressures and those kinds of things. I know a lot of times that got discussed when we used to talk about the Jets when Mike was there, but I also think that they are a very sound defense.
“They do a lot of things well and they force you to do a real good job of driving the football, staying on the field for eight, ten plays in a row in order to get points. They always make it hard on you on third down and in the red zone to stay on the field and finish drives. So, playing them in Buffalo on opening day will certainly make the challenge greater, and we’re excited to get this week going and get the season started.”
To McDaniels’ point, the Patriots had three scoring drives of 17 plays that ended in touchdowns and another of 15. While there’s been a lot of talk this week about whether EJ Manuel or Jeff Tuel will get the starting nod at quarterback, the bigger impact could well be the status of starting safety Jairus Byrd, who may not be ready because of plantar fascitis.
“I think it’s an impressive group,” McDaniels said of the secondary. “They’ve got good speed and they’re definitely a group that is going to stand in and challenge you. They play a lot on the line of scrimmage on the outside with their corners. We’ve played against and competed against [Leodis] McKelvin and [Justin] Rogers before and they do a good job of trying to disrupt timing at the line of scrimmage. They have good ball skills, and unfortunately we’ve seen that before too. [Ron] Brooks is a young guy in his second year that is a really physical player for a small guy, but he certainly plays much bigger than that. He can run well on the perimeter also and plays very aggressively in a physical style when he goes inside in the nickel packages that we’ve seen him in too.
“The safeties – Byrd is a great player and [we] certainly have to be prepared for him to play. He’s made a lot of impact plays over the years, and is a very instinctive player who has great ball skills and awareness of what is going on in the secondary. And [Aaron] Williams is a young player that has moved position a time or two and now I think is really settling in on the back end as one of their safeties that is going to be out there starting and playing a lot of football for them. He has made some impact plays in the preseason as a downhill type of safety that really hits you. And again, like I said, I think this a really talented group with great ball skills that’s not afraid to stand in there and make it hard for you. So, we are anticipating a great challenge. We know we’re going to have to play very well to move the ball in the air, and again, it will be a good challenge for us to start the season this way.”
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