Innovative, ingenious, revolutionary, groundbreaking. All words of praise to describe someone that has excelled in whatever their field is and changed it for the better. In the sports world, I would use those words to describe John Wooden, James Naismith, and Bill Walsh, among others.
Contrary to what we may have been lead to believe by the “experts,” Josh McDaniels is not one of those people. In fact, he’s not even close.
When McDaniels joined the Patriot’s staff in 2001, he was a very unknown graduate of John Carroll University, and just there to help coach the defensive backs. When Charlie Weis left for Notre Dame after 2004, it opened the door for McDaniels, who had been working his way up the ranks. He was named the quarterbacks coach for the 2005 season.
Eventually he was named offensive coordinator, and was at the helm during the historic 2007 season. He’s been extremely successful over the years, but he’s also been the face of many failures.
When he was hired as Denver’s head coach in 2009 the Broncos’ organization believed they had the next coming of Mike Holmgren. Instead what they got was closer to Jeff Fisher.
In his first season with Denver, the Broncos finished 8-8, missing the playoffs by a game. For his second, and final season, they went 3-9 before making the decision to axe McDaniels during the year. Just like his teacher Bill Belichick, McDaniels has a videotaping scandal of his own from this tenure.
After his short time in Denver, he moved on to the St. Louis Rams where he was named Offensive Coordinator under head coach Steve Spagnuolo. That year the Rams had an all-time disgraceful offense and averaged only 12.1 points a game, by far the worst in the league, and 24th worst in NFL history.
Eventually McDaniels made his way back to New England, and once Bill O’Brien left to coach Penn State, found himself named Offensive Coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He’s held that position ever since.
Under no circumstances is Josh McDaniels a bad offensive coordinator, but is he overrated? That’s for damn sure. He’s had some very good years running the Patriots’ offense, but it’s starting to become very stale and old. The rest of the league has learned what to expect.
There have been many instances this season where the Patriots just have dismal offensive games, and the play calling this year has been questionable to say the least. Many people want to put the blame on Brady or someone else, I believe most of the blame lies directly on McDaniels’ shoulders.
In key moments the play calling has been predictable and repetitive. Run, run, pass. So easy to stop.
It seems like he never schemes up any big play potential, instead his go to is a slip screen or an end around. It’s all been seen a million times before.
New England is inept at getting chunk yardage, and their drives are always very long and slow because of this. It’s good to wear down a defensive unit, but it’s bad when almost every new set of downs takes a third down conversion to move the sticks.
They are very fast to go away from what works. A good example would be the lack of no huddle plays this year. In the first drive against the Packers, they stormed down the field in the no huddle scoring an easy touchdown, and then didn’t go back to it for the rest of the game.
Against the Steelers they came out in the no huddle, and ran a very creative play that actually let Brady push the ball down the field, where Hogan was found wide open for a 63 yard score. Obviously they were helped by a clueless Pittsburgh secondary, but it was a breath of fresh air to see them have a long offensive touchdown for the first time all season.
For the he rest of the game, New England scored three points and reverted back to the check down throws that lacked any creativity or chance to succeed. I’d be happy to argue that James White is the most valuable player on offense not named Tom Brady, but in the last 2 games he can’t seem to get on the field.
Against the Steelers he didn’t play a single snap in the first quarter, and only touched the ball a minuscule 7 times on the game. Over the last 2 weeks he’s only touched it 13 times, and McDaniels is struggling badly to find a balance with the running back workload since Rex Burkhead has joined White and Sony Michel in the mix.
Gordon hasn’t been involved enough, Gronk has been locked up most games this season, and they just don’t have the offensive talent to get away with predictable and conservative play calls this year.
My biggest pet peeve with ole Joshy is that he always gets conservative once the Patriots take a lead. He doesn’t step on the opponents’ throats. He gets content, and sometimes allows the other team to make a comeback because of this.
Rightly so, he will be a head coaching candidate this off season, and it’s already being speculated where he might end up. Although after accepting- and then declining- the Colts job last year, teams may not be as open to having him lead their franchise.
I believe McDaniels is a good coordinator, but he gets too much credit for the Patriots offense over the last two decades. Brady runs the offense, Brady dissects the defenses, and Brady is the reason why he has made all his money. Sure he knows offense well, but without Brady he’s just another average Joe.
Andy Reid, Sean Payton, Norv Turner, and Sean McVay are the great offensive minds in the league. The schemes they come up with are unbelievable and groundbreaking stuff in the sport. The same can’t be said for McDaniels, for the highest paid assistant in the league he sure is average at his job. He needs to step it up for the playoffs, because at this pace the Patriots will not be going anywhere fast.
Innovation is a necessity, and New England needs it bad. If Josh McDaniels can’t seem to find that magic touch anymore it might be time to let someone else take the reigns of this New England offensive unit.
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