Ex-QB Reveals How Josh McDaniels Outsmarted Bill Belichick In 2009

'We gave them fits that day'


Dec 15, 2022

Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will square off for the second time this Sunday. Their first matchup, way back in 2009, was a memorable victory for the latter.

Early in McDaniels’ ill-fated tenure as head coach of the Denver Broncos, his team took down the Belichick-coached New England Patriots 20-17 in overtime. McDaniels celebrated that result with a series of emphatic fist pumps — then proceeded to lose 17 of his next 22 games before being fired.

NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms was a backup quarterback on that Broncos team. Ahead of this week’s matchup between the Patriots and McDaniels’ new team, the Las Vegas Raiders, Simms shared a story about how McDaniels employed a game-plan wrinkle to successfully outsmart his mentor.

“All of a sudden, Thursday, (McDaniels) comes in and says, ‘I think we’ve got something here,’ ” Simms said Thursday on “PFT Live,” via NBC Sports Boston. “If you remember the game, we lined up in Wildcat probably 30 times during the football game because he knew they would automatically check to another defense. Then Kyle Orton would come back and be the quarterback, move the Wildcat, Knowshon Moreno, back over to running back and now we knew what coverage they were in because they had this automatic check they got to.

“We gave them fits that day. That was a great example of an ex-coach knowing the other team and finding that one thing that ‘Oh, I know they’re going to do this’ and using it against them.”

The Patriots were on the wrong side of the Wildcat offense’s NFL debut one year earlier, with the Miami Dolphins using it to cut through their baffled defense in a 38-13 rout. McDaniels was New England’s offensive coordinator that season.

“He was there and then the next year he went to Denver,” Simms said, “so it was very fresh as far as a conversation and knowing what they would do the next time they saw Wildcat.”

McDaniels’ first season in Vegas has been a rocky one. A year after winning 10 games and making the playoffs, the Raiders enter Week 15 with a lackluster 5-8 record. But as Simms’ story shows, the former longtime Patriots offensive coordinator is uniquely equipped to exploit his old team’s weaknesses.

Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images
NCAA Football: Alabama-Birmingham at Louisiana State
Previous Article

Bahamas Bowl: Miami (OH) vs. UAB Betting Preview and Insights

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown
Next Article

Why Former NBA Player Believes Celtics Road Trip Was ‘Terrible’

Picked For You