New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2008.
Q: Can you start by reflecting on the last week when you declined to interview for those jobs and what your thinking was?
JM: Yup. I'd always said that if that opportunity presented itself I'd take all the information that I had at hand and try to make the best decision for me personally and professionally -- and for my family, keeping them first and foremost in my mind relative to moving on at any point in my career. I was grateful for the opportunity that those teams gave me, but at this time that's the best thing for me, is to be here and focus my efforts on this preparation for the playoff run here. That's really as simple as that and that's all that went into it and I'm going to be here in New England.
Q: How much did you weigh just going through the experience, even if you knew it wasn't the right time, thinking that that experience might help you in the future?
JM: It could, and I think Bill [Belichick] said it best earlier this week, it could hurt you or it could help you. Every experience could have a positive, could have a negative to it and, again, I'm not really worried or concerned about what that experience may or may not have afforded me going forward in my career. If that ever comes up again and the time is right for me to do that, then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but I'm not really worried about whether it hurt me or helped me or what I could have gained from it or what I didn't gain from it. I'm just really focused right now on the playoffs.
Q: Do you think you're ready to be a head coach in the NFL?
JM: I've said this before - That's for somebody else to choose. If that time ever comes up and that's ever presented again to me and I feel like it's the right opportunity for me to try to attempt to do that, then we'll do it. But again, I've said in the statement, [I'm] grateful for the opportunity they present to me, but at this time I'm going to be a Patriot and I'm looking forward to it.
Q: This is not a Tom Brady question per say, but during the summer if you were sitting around with your buddies and somebody said a quarterback would have the kind of numbers he's had, would you have believed that would be possible?
JM: It's hard to say what another quarterback's going to do in another season. I know he's had a special season relative to the way he's performed and the way he's played. To project whether he would have done that - or somebody else, for that matter, would have done it - I don't know. There's a lot of records and there's a lot of numbers that people I know put out there and say, 'Boy, I don't know if there's ever going to be another guy that gets close to it,' but somebody - I know Peyton [Manning] threw 49 and Tommy, he just so happened to throw 50. I'm sure somebody else will come along and approach that number again and give that a run and see what happens, but I think if you play on a good team and you have a good season and you prepare hard and work hard and you have good people around you and you're on, like I said, a good organization with a good, winning team then you have an opportunity to do things like that. Tommy had a great year, there's no question about it.
Q: As far as safeties go, what do you see in Jacksonville's safeties?
JM: We've played against Sammy Knight before and he's a very instinctive player. He's a veteran guy who you can tell he watches a lot of film and understands what teams are trying to do against them. He's a very smart player. Reggie Nelson is an exceptional athlete. [He] covers a lot of ground, has made a lot of big plays for them this year. You can't be lazy around either one of them. You can't take your eyes off of them or you can't throw the ball and not know where they are, because they'll make plays on you and they'll have the ball going the other way. They're a big-play defense and those two are a big part of the reason why, because they're aggressive in the run. They'll get down there and they'll hit you and they'll make plays in the running game, but they also take away plenty in the passing game in the deep part of the field and, again, like I said, if you're not careful with them then they'll end up with the football. I think that's something that you're going to have to keep in mind on every play the entire four quarters with those two.
Q: Thinking back a few months, would you have been surprised at all at what Randy Moss has been able to accomplish?
JM: You know, from the time we got Randy he showed how hard he was willing to work. He's been a great leader and a great teammate and a great guy for us to coach. When you have ability like Randy has and then you tie that in with how hard he works to try to go ahead and be the best player he can be and really help our team in any way, shape or form he can - I don't really think the numbers are that big of a thing for him. I think he wants to win and I think that shows every day when we come into work. To look at his skill level and to say that I'd be surprised at what he's done with how hard he works, I wouldn't say that. He's capable of big things and he's obviously shown that this year. With the way he works and the way he approaches the game, it doesn't surprise me.
Q: What was your focus offensively during the bye week? What did that help you do?
JM: We did a lot of things during the bye week and really tried to hit a lot of areas - Most areas of our offense we tried to work on and tried to take a look at the last half of the season. Anything that we could do better or things that we might want to go ahead and tweak going into the playoffs, you always have an opportunity to do that when you have a bye week. We kind of took the same approach that we did when we had the bye week in the middle of the season. [We] really focused on ourselves and covered a lot of ground -- worked in the red zone, goal line, third down, against blitz pickup, in the running game - and tried to hit as much of it as we possibly could. We had two good days last week and hopefully that will help us here going forward into the playoffs.
Q: When teams have gone three-wide or four-wide against Jacksonville, how have they generally defended it? Do they play much six defensive backs, or it is pretty standard with just the one, Terry Cousin, coming on?
JM: Yeah, I would say that they're a nickel team, with Terry Cousin coming in. They've shown some dime - not a whole lot of it, but I would say this: not a lot of teams have really put that four-wide or anything like that out there against them, so it just so happens that they've been in a lot more nickel than anything else. I know they have a good secondary. Those other players - [Scott] Starks and [Aaron] Glenn and those [guys] - they have all played and we've seen them and we've watched them play and do good things. It wouldn't surprise me to see them put the dime in the game, but if it just was nickel than that's probably what they've played the most of and what they feel most comfortable in, and that's what we would anticipate [them] putting out there against us when we're in any kind of three-receiver grouping.
Q: How much does it help you as an offensive coordinator to have the depth on the offensive line that you do? Nick Kaczur goes out and Ryan O'Callaghan can come in and it doesn't seem like you lose very much.
JM: That's been a big help. Dante [Scarnecchia] does a great job, does an exceptional job at coaching that group of guys. I know he doesn't treat the starters any differently than he does the guys that are getting ready to play if one of those happens to go down. We've been fortunate that we've had some guys go in there and play well and stand up to the challenge. I think that's definitely a big plus when you can have guys step in there like that, because then you don't have to change as much of what you want to do as [you would] if you felt differently about that group. To be able to say we have depth there and put those guys in there and let them play and not have to change or adjust too much of what we're doing, I think that's the biggest advantage it gives us. Like I said, it comes back to Dante and he does a great job coaching that group.
Q: What's the biggest challenge for that offensive group facing the size of Jacksonville's defensive line?
JM: They're really physical, they're aggressive. They create a lot of issues with just a four-man rush because they never, ever stop coming. It's a great team as far as hustling and making hustle plays, is what we kind of call them. You may have them blocked initially, but you have to block them until the play is completed or else they're going to get to the quarterback, or they're going to get in the backfield and create a problem in the running game. I think finishing plays overall and getting on your assignment early, but then again continuing until the whistle blows, I think that's a big thing for them. That's where they create a lot of their negative plays and it's probably the biggest challenge that we're going to face up front, is not only being physical and matching their aggressiveness, but also finishing every play like they do.
Q: Can you talk about the impact of the spread offense at the college level and how much of an influence it may have in the NFL, positive or negative?
JM: The spread offense in college seems to be different because the quarterback is such a running threat in college. And I'm not an expert in the spread offense, as far as college football is concerned, but I know when you see it you see a lot of quarterbacks that are mobile and able to run and they use that guy as the primary runner sometimes, which to me is an advantage. Unless you put another guy down there in the box, you'll always have enough to block whomever they have down there close to the line of scrimmage, which when you're handing the ball to the back a lot of times, you don't have the same numbers advantage because the quarterback's not a blocker. A lot of times in college football they use that running back or that halfback, whoever's back there, as the next blocker to handle that safety who's coming down in the box. Then the quarterback's the runner and there's really no guy for him except the guy standing back there in the middle of the field, and that guy obviously is not going to make the tackle close to the line of scrimmage.
Q: What kind of impact are you seeing at this level?
JM: I don't know if there's really… Like I said, it's a different type of game there and as far as the players - Is that what you're asking, about as the players are concerned?
Q: How do you deal with the quarterbacks?
JM: I don't think there's much of a - We don't end up seeing a lot of similarities between college spread and the type of offenses you see in the NFL because of the lack of runners at that position, as I would say is the quarterback position.
Q: Focus has been a buzzword this year for you guys. In terms of turning down those job interviews, did you think in any way that by going and interviewing you would set a bad example for the team? Did that enter your thought process at all?
JM: I really wasn't concerned with that. I mean, I obviously want to do what's great and best for this football team at this point in time, but just the overall decision was simple. The best thing for me is to be a Patriot and to continue in my role here and do what I've been doing and prepare hard for the playoffs and worry about that stuff at a later time, if it comes back up again.
Q: It was really that simple to turn down someone who asked if you wanted to be a head coach of an NFL team?
JM: It was really that simple. I love my job here right now.
Q: James Carroll has produced a lot of very good coaches. How much did your experience there contribute to your success?
JM: I learned a tremendous amount at John Carroll. The people that I worked with and that coached me there did a great job of running that program and I know that they've had some successful people come into the National Football League, as far as coaches are concerned. Obviously Don Shula is the most noted of those guys, but there's a lot of people in the league that have kind of a background from there. They kind of keep in close contact with one another. I know most of the guys that are still in the league, Chuck Priefer and Greg Roman and some other guys that are in the league that do a good job. It's kind of a little fraternity and we take a lot of pride in coming from a smaller school and being able to come into something like the National Football League and try to make a success story out of ourselves, and then in hindsight, hopefully keep John Carroll in the light. It's a little clique we have, so it's kind of fun. But I owe a lot to it. I had a great education there and it obviously springboards you into whatever career you're going to go into. I've chosen this one [and] it's a good one.
Q: Did you meet Don Shula when you were in college?
JM: I did not. I have met him, though, before, but I didn't meet him when I was in college.