FOXBOROUGH — Sporting a white long-sleeve shirt and jeans, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels met with the media this afternoon as part of an assistant coaches availability. The Patriots have made several changes to their offense since losing to Denver in the AFC Championship Game, and McDaniels was excited to work with new players in the system as well as those that have been Patriots previously.
“We only have a certain amount of time we can spend with them,” McDaniels said. “Whether you want to do that with strength and conditioning or a little bit of coaching on the field. We kind of split that up, we got a chance to meet with them this morning in the classroom for a short period of time. We got to start teaching some of the new stuff to some of the guys that are new to us and refreshing some of the guys that were with us before.”
He also touched on how to approach having both new players as well as returners in the meeting room and how managing the process with each is a balancing act.
“You gotta manage that. You certainly can’t gear everything towards one or two guys,” McDaniels said. “You are aware of where they’re at as far as development and learning our system, but we have to focus on the offense as a whole. These guys are all professionals and if they need a little bit of understand or clarification they’ll ask. Generally, we set the tempo that we teach at. We’re going to go quick and try to get a lot done. Right now its not about everybody knowing everything on the field, they’re going to learn on the field as much as they learn in the classroom…We’ve got a great group of guys, a super group to work with.”
The biggest NFL story of the past month was an appeals court decision to reinstate the suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The Patriots have been mostly mum on the topic, but did draft a quarterback, North Carolina State’s Jacoby Harris, in the third round. This pick also brings the development of Jimmy Garoppolo into focus, as he will be starting if Brady misses time. McDaniels made it clear that regardless of who is starting, his expectations are the same.
“It’s the same as last year, there’s no curve for any one of them, you know,” said McDaniels. “They’re learning the same material and going over the same stuff. Our expectations are that if you’re in the quarterback room you’re learning what the quarterbacks need to know to play well in this offense against whatever team we play. There won’t be any change of that. The expectations are high no matter what, in that room and every other room. We’re trying to teach and guys are putting pressure on themselves to learn as much as they possibly can. That won’t change and I expect a great work ethic from our group this year too.”
Running backs coach Ivan Fears echoed that statement when asked if there might be a change in offensive approach with a different quarterback.
“I truly expect we’re going to do whatever it takes to win the game. I don’t care what that is. That’s the way we look at it,” said Fears. “We always want to be better at everything we do. That’s just a standard statement, but if you really want to cut to the chase: whatever it takes to win the game, that’s the way we need to play the game. That’s all that matters, it really is. When that game is over and it hits zero-zero on the clock and we’re on top, we’re okay.”
McDaniels also praised his newest quarterback and how he projects into the Patriots’ program.
“Jacoby is a big, strong kid. He’s got great character, football character,” McDaniels said. “He’s an intelligent kid who learns well. He was recruited by coach (Charlie) Weis down at Florida before he went to North Carolina State. We’ve spoken to quite a few people about him and his work-ethic, his leadership, how he handles himself in the building and there’s a lot of good traits to like. Like all rookie quarterbacks, they’re way behind so the process will begin this weekend and we’re excited to start that process. I know he’ll be excited when he gets here and has an opportunity to start learning and jumping into what we’re doing. I got know him a little bit in the pre-draft process, I like him and I’m excited to start working with him,”
The season is a long way off and a lot can happen between now and then but one thing is firm: the Patriots offense will continue to expect excellence of itself.