So far, so good in Josh McDaniels’ latest Patriots exodus.
The former New England offensive coordinator has hit the ground running after deciding to finally jump. McDaniels has been in Las Vegas for a few months now after a Foxboro brain drain, and the early returns are encouraging if you’re a Raiders fan, at least.
“The depth of conversations that we’re having is encouraging,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr told NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry. ” ? He’s genius when it comes to scheming up and teaching his system and getting the best out of his players.”
Carr also insisted those conversations already make him “feel like a better football player.”
Obviously, that shouldn’t come as much surprise to anyone who has closely followed the Patriots for the last 10 to 15 years. McDaniels has long been heralded as a brilliant offensive mind, even if he doesn’t get as much credit as maybe he should because he had the privilege of working under Bill Belichick and alongside Tom Brady.
But you don’t need to look far back for proof of McDaniels’ effectiveness. The Patriots, despite a lack of high-end, skill-position talent, had one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL last season. New England’s run game ranked seventh in EPA, while the passing attack — led by a rookie quarterback — ranked 11th. By that metric, McDaniels oversaw a top-10 unit.
Carr’s praise of his new boss is the latest reminder of the offensive uncertainty in Foxboro. Mac Jones looked like the real deal in his rookie season. He’s now tasked with working alongside a new offensive coordinator in his sophomore year; he flat-out doesn’t have an OC, at least not by name. Much has been made about the nebulous nature of the New England offense this spring. Belichick essentially replaced McDaniels with a pair of retreads, dumpster diving for Joe Judge and Matt Patricia following unsuccessful head coaching stints with the Giants and Lions, respectively.
Whether a special teams coach and defensive coordinator can help a 23-year-old quarterback develop will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the 2022 season, though someone like Daniel Jones might have a worthwhile opinion on how that might end up.
As we hear Carr rave about McDaniels, you can’t help but wonder which direction Jones heads in his development. A revolving door of offensive personnel certainly stunted Carr. Jones might be better than Carr — Jones was a top-15 pick, after all — but we can’t say that for sure after just one season at the helm.
That Carr will get to throw to Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow this season only underscores the importance of setting the quarterback up to succeed.
Can the Patriots say they’ve done the same with Jones? Not at all. That’s hard to even begin to argue. They’re certainly asking a lot of the second-year QB. No pressure.