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Josh McDaniels Conference Call Transcript: 'You don't want to become predictable'

Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels addresses the media during his conference call on Tuesday, September 16, 2014.


Q: **What did you like about your offense coming out of the game Sunday, and what do you think needs to be better?

JM:We really made an emphasis on improving some things in the running game last week. [We] definitely wanted to be physical and try to establish ourselves at the line of scrimmage. We talked about being productive on first down last week because we needed to put ourselves in some good second- and third-down situations, and I thought that for the most part we saw a lot of improvements in terms of double teams and eliminating some penetration at the line of scrimmage, which is always important. I believe we only ended up with one negative run in 37 attempts, which if you can do that, generally you're going to stay ahead on down and distance when you're running the football, which is a big key for us. We definitely tried to do that. I thought the guys really had a good week of practice and improved in that area. I think that we missed a couple short-yardage opportunities, which, anytime you can get yourself into a third-and-one type situation you really want to convert on those opportunities because you don't get them that often. So we're going to have to be better there, and we can do better. But those situations, certainly if you can convert them they give you another set of downs, and who knows what those drives lead to, but we missed a couple of opportunities there. There are always other things, but I'd say the number one thing that stood out to me was the penalties, the times where we hurt ourselves and put ourselves in really long-yardage situations. It's just going to be tough to overcome those. The players know that and we've addressed it, and we're going to continue to try to coach it hard. And I know that they're going to do everything they can to try to eliminate those mistakes and then continue to put ourselves in better down-and-distance situations as we go forward here.

Q:Charles Woodson is still playing at 37 years old. What have you seen from him on tape thus far?

JM:I almost played against Charles in high school a long time ago. We were going to in the playoffs, and one of us lost – I don't remember who it was. He's obviously been doing it for an incredibly long time at an elite level and he still is. He's got great instincts and awareness. He's still got great quickness and speed. He's obviously going to have great ball skills if he has a chance. He made a great play on a ball in the Jets game for a turnover. He's so savvy; you can tell that he knows what's coming based on formations sometimes. We're going to have to do a great job of identifying where he's at and really being mindful of his presence in the secondary because he's certainly capable of making a lot of big plays.

Q:With regards to the penalties, it seems like they are throwing more flags on rub routes and pick plays. How do you go about doing what you want without drawing those penalties?

JM:We're trying to do the best we can. Everybody runs crossing patterns and everybody runs bunch routes and 'pick plays', and sometimes you do a great job of executing it and there is really nothing to be called, and other times there happens to be some contact. We've got to do a better job of trying to coach our guys. I think our guys do a great job of trying to execute exactly what we're asking of them, but we've got to coach it better and avoid those kinds of mistakes because it's the difference between a great play and a minus-10 because it's a penalty, and we certainly don't want to incur any of those. I've got to do a better job of communicating that to our guys and trying to get us to do anything like that legally. We're never trying to bend the rules or break the rules there. We're just trying to hopefully have an opportunity to win versus some tight coverage.

Q:To do the pick play, would you try to have your guy get in someone's way without making contact versus actually making contact, which would draw the flag?

JM:I think anytime you're talking about tight coverage and you have more than one receiver in that specific area, if you can force any kind of hesitation or delay in the cover player to run to his coverage or to track his receiver if you will, that's really what we're talking about. It's not very complicated in terms of what you're attempting to do. You're just trying to get space for somebody. If you go in there and block somebody, obviously it's going to get called, or most of the time it's going to get called. If you go in there and don't, then you have an opportunity to execute whatever it is you're choosing to do. And again, let's give the defense credit a lot of times, too, because they have an opportunity to have an impact on those plays, too. They try to cover tight and sometimes you get an opportunity to do that and sometimes you don't. Like I said, we can coach it better, and our guys certainly try to do what we're asking them to do.

Q:You have a couple veteran receivers in Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell who have a track record of producing in the NFL, yet Tom Brady doesn't seem to be targeting them through these first two games. Where is the disconnect there, and why can't these veteran guys get on the same page with Tom Brady?

JM:I don't think it's a lack of communication or lack of being on the same page. First of all, we only threw the ball 22 times the other day, and many of those were in two-receiver-type settings or came out quick in three-step drops and those kinds of things, and a lot of times the coverage dictates where the ball goes. I don't think it was a case of Tom misreading the coverage or Tom not looking in any specific direction. We have all our guys in the pattern, and Tom is capable of reading the coverage out and throwing it to the right guy and always does a great job of that. Sometimes that means the ball is going to go certain places more than others. There is always a place you start with your read, and sometimes if the guy happens to open right away, you don't need to go any further. We always try to be balanced and distribute the ball to all of our skill players. We feel like we have capable tight ends, capable receivers, capable backs, and it never is our attention to go into the game and throw the ball to just one or two guys in a particular situation. Those guys have a great attitude – everybody has – and sometimes you start one way, but definitely it's a long season, and there are a lot of opportunities left, and I'm sure the ball will get thrown a lot of different directions here as we go forward.

Q:You hear a lot around town that Danny Amendola hasn't earned Tom Brady's trust. Is that fair to him?

JM:I don't know anything about that. I think Danny has shown that he can be an obvious contributor in our offense. He did it last year and played through some different things and came up huge for us in a number of situations and a number of games. I have a lot of confidence in Danny, I have a lot of confidence in all our receivers and tight ends and backs in the passing game, and I would anticipate that we'll go forward and the ball will get distributed to a lot of those guys that can do a lot of good things with it.

Q:What is the balance between run and pass that you look for each game?

JM:I think each game is different. Certainly you don't want to become predictable, and I think you want to be able to turn and hand the ball to your running back and block people effectively and allow the runner to make yards. I think that's a very simple way to move the football and be productive on offense. We're never going to go into a game and want to be one dimensional or predictable with what we're doing. Whatever the percentage is, I don't know. We don't have a specific number in mind. I know that certainly the circumstances in each game are different. If you're fortunate enough to get a lead, sometimes that changes things. If you're unfortunate enough to fall behind, that can certainly change things in the other direction, too, as it did in the second half in Miami. We just want to try to use all of our skill players that can do good things with the ball. We want to allow our linemen, tight ends and fullbacks to be aggressive and physical and block people in the running game. I think that's really a great … If you're trying to measure how tough you are, you certainly offensively need to be able to run the football, and I know that's been something that has always been a goal of ours is to try to be a tough, smart offense, and that really starts with your ability to run the football. We're going to try to be balanced each week, and hopefully we can maintain that as the year goes on.

Q:Rob Gronkowski played fewer snaps this past week. Are you trying to work him back up to speed?

JM:I think Rob is making strides each week in terms of what he's been able to do for us in practice and on the field during the game. I think a little bit of it last week was situationally based. We used Cameron Fleming a little bit more in last week's game in some different situations. We did that because we wanted to add a little size and so on and so forth. That dictated some different personnel groupings on the field. But I think Rob is doing a good job. He's really working hard. These are his first two opportunities to get out there in a game this year, and I think every opportunity that we have is just a better day to improve on where he's at and where we're at offensively and get him involved in different things. And we played him in some different situations this week than we did last week, too. I feel good about Rob and where he's going, and I look forward to this week.

Q:What are your thoughts on the evolution and improvement of James Develin?

JM:We got James here, and he had a defensive background in college and played fullback in Cincinnati. All we've seen from James is hard work, commitment to our program and doing things our way; intelligent player, selfless, does anything we ask him to do, plays a tough, physical style for us and has been able to fill in in multiple roles. We've used him in the running game, in the passing game, he's caught passes for us, he's protected the passer. Like I said, he does a lot of different things for us. He's a valuable guy for us to have, a great person for us in our room because he's always well prepared, works extremely hard in practice, sets a great example for the younger players, and we have a lot of confidence in James that whatever role we put him in, he's going to be able to do it and do it effectively to help us win games.

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