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Josh McDaniels Transcript: 'Always want to be productive in the running game'

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels addresses the media during a conference call on Monday, November 10, 2011


Q: How much does the Colts defense look like the old Ravens teams under Chuck Pagano, and how much have they put their own wrinkle on it? **

JM: I definitely think there is an element of that, certainly. Chuck Pagano, obviously, that's his background, and there is some of that there. But I also think there is a great blend here, and they've kind of created their own little package, and they do different things off of it each week. I think they really present a lot of different issues for you. They blitz quite a bit more than most of the teams that we've played, which is going to be, I would say, a very critical factor in the game, our ability to handle that. They play a lot of tight man coverage. They have guys who do a really good job of covering man-to-man [in] one-on-one situations on the outside. They ask their safeties and linebackers to do the same thing, and they've got guys who can do that. They've been stopping the run, creating turnovers and getting to the quarterback, so there are not a lot of holes. I definitely see some of what we had faced in the past in Baltimore, but certainly this is their own defense. They've added different flavors to it, and we've got a big challenge ahead of us this week.

Q: What are the benefits of Rob Gronkowski being able to get a free release off the line?

JM: Well, I think with any skilled player, if you have an opportunity to release clean into the route in the passing game, it takes away something that you're not really having to worry about or think about at the line of scrimmage, and then you can focus a little bit more on reading the coverage or whatever the route is that you're running. I think that he gets played at the line of scrimmage some and some not. It's kind of a mixture of all different things, but I would say that's true for most or all of our skill players, especially our receivers. There are plenty of times where they get jammed and then there are some times when their corner plays them off. We work extremely hard on trying to help our guys release into the pattern. We spend a lot of time in practice doing that. [Tight ends] coach [Brian] Daboll [and] [wide receivers] coach [Chad] O'Shea do a great job of that. He knows that there are going to be challenges each week that different teams present, and we've got to do a good job of being prepared for those.

Q: Does Vontae Davis remind you of some of the physical corners you guys have here?

JM: They've got more than one, but Vontae is definitely a physical guy, plays at the line of scrimmage, uses his hands well. He is a physical guy who can disrupt you at the line of scrimmage. [Greg] Toler has done a great job on the other side. He's long, got long arms. Both of them have been effective playing near the line of scrimmage, and they use them in that way, I would say, most of the time. So, it's going to be good preparation, good practice for us this week working against some of our guys, but we're going to need to be at our best on Sunday against these two corners because they do a really good job of sticking to their guys on the outside and not letting them get clean releases much of the time into their patterns.

Q: There have been big, strong tight ends in the league ever since you've been coaching. Do you think those guys are getting more recognition now because they're being used more as receivers and catching more passes?

JM: I don't know. I think that there have obviously been great tight ends that could catch passes in the NFL for a long time. I mean, just going back through the Ozzie Newsomes and the Kellen Winslows and the Ben Coateses, there are a ton of them in the past that I think have done that over the course of time. Maybe they get a little bit more attention now. Some teams have chosen to use more of them at the same time, which may increase the volume of passes thrown their way. But, I think the tight end position has always been an important position in people's offenses if they choose to use it, and there seems to be a number of guys, obviously, having success at this time.

Q: What kind of difference makers have new signees Arthur Jones and D'Qwell Jackson been for the Colts?

JM: Both guys are veteran players. Jones has been disruptive at the line of scrimmage, adds an element of inside pass rush to their front and is a very active guy when he's in there. [He] obviously comes from a good program. And then D'Qwell is obviously a veteran leader, a guy who gets everything lined up and squared away on the defensive side – the quarterback of the defense if you will. He does a good job of getting to the football, makes a lot of tackles, is a good blitzer when they use him in that role and does a really good job in pass coverage. We saw that last year in Cleveland, he actually got an interception in our game against the Browns last year. So, he is adept at multiple things in the defense and does a good job of getting them lined up and in the right call. I think both guys have helped them a lot this year.

Q: What is your assessment of your own running game? I ask because you had a low rush average last week, but you stay committed enough to it to set up play action. Is it where you want it to be? Is it a case where the numbers against the Broncos weren't good, but maybe you're OK with it because it was successful in setting up play action?

JM: Well, we always want to productive in the running game, and it depends on the situation in terms of how you measure that production. Certainly, if you're running the ball on first-and-10, you'd love to get four or five yards on the first play of the set of downs and set yourself up in good position for second and third down. That being said, if it's second-and-short, third-and-short, you'd love to just be able to get the first down and convert there and give yourself a new set of downs. Sometimes the average is misleading, but nonetheless, we'd love for our running game to be productive however we choose to use it each week to be able to produce good second-down situations, first downs when we run the ball on second or third down, score touchdowns in the red zone or on the goal line. And then also, like you said, if you continue to stay committed to it, one, you force them to continue to defend it because teams that stop defending the run, obviously their pass rush or their blitz schemes or what have you may become more problematic for you. We have work to do to improve in every area of our offense. We did a lot of looking at that in the bye week and tried to analyze where we could improve and make progress, and hopefully we'll be able to use those studies to try to improve not only our running game but our entire offensive operation.

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