Fresh off an impressive 27-24 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, Josh McDaniels checked in with the media on Tuesday to break down some of the nuances from the Chargers game while also giving a preview of the sizable challenge that the Carolina Panthers defense will present this weekend.
One of the key moments from the Chargers game came with the Patriots set up on the LA one-yard-line but failing to punch it in, even after going for on fourth down. McDaniels' decision to call back-to-back passing plays was a bit curious and the offensive coordinator clarified that he wished he could have those decisions back.
"I look back on that sequence and it's probably one of the ones I wish I could do differently," said McDaniels. "We had already been down there once and run one of our goal-line runs down in there. We were fortunate to get it in on that one, Jak made a great block.
"We only have a handful of things you do down there, inside that yard line and so I chose, obviously at that point incorrectly."
The lost points ultimately did not cost the Patriots, as their defense would pitch an ensuing three-and-out, quickly giving the ball back to the offense. And while they would kick a field goal, the offense entered a stretch where things were looking out of sync, with Mac Jones' third-down pass from the nine-yard-line that hit Hunter Henry in the legs before he was out of his break standing out as an example.
McDaniels broke down what he saw happen to his young quarterback during that period, something that extended into the second half before Jones got right to finish the game off with a final drive.
"The timing of the pass plays and the timing of the quarterback in his mind...they both have to be in sync," said McDaniels. "Sometimes there are different things that could lead to that not necessarily being connected and so I feel like that has happened off and on with every player that's played that position that I've had the chance to coach at one point or other. It's not something that stays with them very long. It could happen for a quarter, it could happen for a series or a half, but sometimes it's more you're seeing things a little quicker or feeling things a little quicker and then all of sudden the route's not quite developed yet and the ball's out of your hand There's a few of those that happened the other day. We'll coach and correct those. Not an uncommon thing at all for a quarterback to have a play, series or half that go like that.
"[Mac] slowed himself down as the game went on and I thought he played really good football in the fourth quarter."
This Sunday, McDaniels, Jones and the rest of the Patriots offense will face one of their toughest challenges of the season. Carolina's defense sits near the top of the leagues rankings in every important category including points (5th), yards (2nd) and on third down (3rd).
Led by edge rushers Haason Reddick and Brian Burns, with speedy linebacker Shaq Thompson making plays, Carolina has all the pieces and are playing collectively.
"They've got really good players at all three levels, they're fast, they're productive, they don't give up much production in the passing game," said McDaniels. "It's a big challenge for us, no question about it, on the road in a tough place to play. We've played down there a bunch of times too, it's loud, it's not easy to play there. There's a lot of things we've gotta get ready for.
"This is one of the best groups that we're gonna play, there's no question about that."