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Josh McDaniels: 'Communication, experience, playing with one another that factors into how we play'

Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels addresses the media during his conference call at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, November 4, 2014.


Q:** Bill Belichick was talking yesterday about some of the problems on third-and-short. How complicated is it to do what the Bears did in the 1980s and put someone like William 'The Refrigerator' Perry in the backfield? Is that something you would consider?

JM: We would do anything we felt like could help us convert in any situation. I know we've done it on the goal line before. We've used defensive players; we've used offensive linemen on the goal line in different roles as tight end, as fullback. If it was something we felt like was the best thing to do to try to be successful in those situations, I don't think there would be anything that would be off the table. I don't think it would be earth shattering in terms of being able to get that done or have somebody learn that. It's just a matter of whether you feel like that's the best thing to do.

Q: You haven't used many trick plays so far this year. Are you planning on using any in the second half of the season?

JM: Those are always … I think every team has their different things they do. It's just a matter sometimes of whether you feel like you've got one that you can work against a certain defense, and if you feel like you have the timing in the game to do it, then great, and if not … Times in the past we've run them successfully. There is always a risk involved with them, so you just try to weigh all the factors and then hopefully call them at the right time.

Q: Do you spend a lot of time watching how other teams have reacted to the things you've done offensively, or do you just do what you do?

JM: I think you definitely look at how you're being played. This is a great example for this week because it's the bye week. We'll split our work really in two different areas. One is looking at what we've done and how we're being defended and the things that people have had success doing against us, and then the other one would be getting ahead for the next game on the schedule. There is definitely an element of looking at that. I think you always have to assume that the next team that you're going to play will look at the things that some other opponent has done to you and has had success with and make sure that you try to do as much as you can in preparation for the next opponent to try to make sure you shore up anything that somebody might have had in their game plan that caused you an issue. I think that's an ongoing thing. I think you do it every week. We try to do it every week. Sometimes guessing how you may or may not be played … You can always kind of throw in some different things – wrinkles in practice – which Bill [Belichick] does a great job of that. We don't always control what we get each free period in practice, and some of that is just to make sure we stay on our toes because we don't really know. All you can know is what you've seen on tape and what you can anticipate. It's a happy medium between telling your players what to expect and then also just being ready to use our rules and react on game day when we see something that's maybe a little different.


Q:** What has sparked a better performance from the offensive line from what we saw in the early part of the season?

JM: I think that any time you're talking about a group of multiple people that need to work well together and be kind of cohesive with a lot of the things that they do, communication is always a very important factor. I think understanding how the guy beside you reacts to certain things and the strengths and weaknesses of the guys that you're playing with, and I also think that time spent working together is always something that can't be understated because through repetition and experience you create good habits. I think that whether it's the offensive line or it's the skill group throwing with the quarterback or whatever it may be, there is always an element of communication, experience, playing with one another that factors into how well we can do our jobs. I think the offensive line has really come along. They work hard each week, as do the rest of the guys on the offense and defense and the entire roster really to try to improve those things. That's all I can contribute it to is those guys work extremely hard, they care deeply about doing the right thing, and we've tried to demonstrate some patience in letting some guys work out some different kinks and getting really familiar with playing with one another and doing a good job of communicating and being on the same page.

Q: How impressed are you with Tom Brady's improvement in throwing on the move and extending plays outside the pocket? Also, how difficult is it mentally and physically for someone who has been around the NFL as long as Tom has to change that part of his game?

JM: Obviously, Tom never is satisfied with just being what he is. He wants to get better every day, which is an incredible attitude to bring to our team and it's a tribute to him because of all the success he's had that he still wants to do that and can do that, and that's I think what we've seen. I still think he's obviously a pocket passer and going to do most of his work from the pocket, but the fact that he has worked hard at being able to move and make some throws on the run and he's actually applying it in the games and doing that and then having success with it, making some really impactful plays the last so many games here when he's done it, I think it just shows him and everybody else that if you work at something – whether it's a weakness or a strength or whatever it may be – you can usually make it better. I don't think he ever wasn't able to do it. I just think we've seen a few more examples the last few weeks, and his work has certainly paid off for us.

Q: How important is Rob Gronkowski's presence on the field in terms of opening things up for some of the other pass catchers? One play in particular I'm thinking about is from this past week on Shane Vereen's touchdown right before halftime. It seemed like he hesitated before going out into his route, and I'm wondering if that was part of his route or if he was protecting and then went out on his own.

JM: Any player that the defense chooses to pay more attention to certainly can open up other things for other players. We've had situations in different games this year where somebody's paid extra special attention to Julian [Edelman] and Rob, and there have been teams in the past that have done it to Shane, too. Obviously, just doing the math of it all, if you put two guys on one then there's less to cover the other guys. I think that was a play where there were two or three guys really trying to either bump Rob or try to disrupt his route and the timing of it and then cover him, and it opened up something in the middle for Shane. You just have to keep your eyes open in those situations and read the defense out. It's hard to predict all those different things. I think it's so important for the quarterbacks to see it after the ball is snapped because we can guess all we want about who they may or may not try to do something to in terms of double teaming and what have you, but until they show us what they're going to do after the ball is snapped, it's hard to determine where you're going to go and where you're not going to go. On that particular play, I think as I'm envisioning the play, Shane was checking protection quickly, and then sometimes you can get out exactly where you want to through the line of scrimmage and other times you may have to slide over a gap or two wider and find your way through there because of some kind of stunt or what have you or the way the rush develops on defense. I think he was just trying to find a good spot to get through the line of scrimmage and he did. Shane is really a smart player in terms of knowing when he's available and knowing, 'OK I'm open, let me turn and see what Tom is doing and make myself available for him if he wants to throw me the ball.' I think that was a really good example of doing that on that play.

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