How Josh McDaniels Leans On Assistants In Crafting Patriots’ Game Plans


November 19, 2018

Josh McDaniels is the mastermind of the New England Patriots’ offense. But drawing up plays for Tom Brady and Co. is not a one-man endeavor.

Speaking Monday in a conference call with reporters, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator explained the important role his fellow offensive assistants (running backs coach, wide receivers coach, etc.) play in shaping New England’s game plan each week.

“I know there?s areas that I can improve on and impact the game in a better way than what I?ve done,” McDaniels said. “Our coaches do a tremendous job offensively — in just speaking for our side of the ball — of evaluating a lot of different situations that they?re responsible for during the course of the week.”

Here’s the exact breakdown, per McDaniels:

— Wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea handles the red-zone offense.

— Longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia evaluates the running game and short-yardage situations.

— Running backs coach Ivan Fears is in charge of goal line, including instances in which New England is backed up deep in its own territory.

— Tight ends coach Nick Caley is the third-down guy.

— Coaching assistant Cole Popovich assists Scarnecchia on short-yardage plays.

“We have a lot of things that they?re really tremendously involved with,” McDaniels said, “and they help educate me, not only during the bye week, but usually weekly on what we?ve called, any tendencies that we have that I can try to do a better job of fixing. Maybe some of the things that I need to call more or less or what have you.”

McDaniels views the process of constructing a game plan as a collaborative effort between himself and the rest of the Patriots’ offensive coaches, many of whom have multiple decades of coaching experience.

“No question, no question,” McDaniels said. “They have a lot of say in what we do, and they?ve certainly earned that. They work tremendously hard at it, and one of the best things I can do is listen.”

The Patriots haven’t ranked outside the top four in the NFL in scoring average since 2009. They’re seventh in that category through 11 weeks this season (28.0 points per game), with Brady frequently saying New England’s offense has yet to reach its potential.

McDaniels is hoping the team finally hits its stride over the final six weeks of the regular season.

“We all have a job to do, and we all can continue to try to improve and hopefully do our best work here coming down the stretch and playing games after Thanksgiving, which is always our goal,” he said.

“… I think it?s a continuing education throughout the course of the season — your team evolves, and hopefully you can evolve properly as a play-caller and play-designer and then continue to try to give them the best chance to be successful on Sunday. Hopefully my best football is ahead of me, as well.”

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