Pats aren't looking ahead beyond Dolphins

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Pats aren't looking ahead beyond Dolphins

FOXBORO -- Week 17 will be an interesting one. Not just for the Patriots to find out what seed they'll have in the playoffs, but also to find out who they'll be playing.

The assumption would be that at some point this week, somebody might start to look ahead at the potential teams New England could face. Still, this is the Patriots. And that's just not how they do business.

At least, that's what they continue to say. And offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels re-iterated that in a conference call on Monday, saying that all they're doing is preparing for the regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins.

"I dont think theres any less preparation because this is the second time around against a division opponent," said McDaniels. "This team is a team that theyre obviously a really good defensive team. They have a lot of talented players at all three levels of their defense. We certainly had our hands full in the first game with them and it was a nip and tuck game there most of the way. They created some issues for us, so my whole focus and our whole focus this week is going to be on trying to get our team and our offense to play as well as we can against Miami.

"If theres time to find some extra time at some point later in the week to try to squeeze in a little bit of work on somebody else then thats great, but I know Im going to spend my time trying to get our team ready to go and play against Miami and see if we can put together a good performance. Its always a challenge to play a division opponent the second time this close to one another. You did so many things you wanted to do in the first game and now you have that dilemma: do we change a lot, do we keep it much the same? And theyre going to go through the same things too. They have our complete, total focus this week.

"I think what matters is that we finish out the season the right way and then try to prepare and have a great week of preparation, whomever we play," added McDaniels. "I think our focus is going to be on the Dolphins and whatever we end up doing in the playoffs or what have you, then well find out after Sunday."

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

For weeks the speculation regarding Josh McDaniels wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

But while national media had McDaniels signed, sealed and delivered to multiple landing spots, the proposition that he'd leave at all was never a likelihood. 

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The Rams weren't attractive to him from the outset. Jacksonville didn't excite him, either. And on Monday, he passed on the 49ers opportunity. 

The lure of a blank slate in San Fran at quarterback and GM didn't outpace the uncertainty of going cross-country to work for a seemingly dysfunctional franchise that's cycled rapidly through coaches and has an unrealistic sense that it's a long, long way removed from its glory days, the only remnant remaining from that being perhaps the logo on the helmet. 

With four kids and a job McDaniels considers one of the 10 best on coaching -- head man or no -- he will stay on as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"I was really impressed with (Niners owner) Jed York and (team executive) Paraag Marathe . . . and the people that came from the 49ers organization," McDaniels said on a conference call this morning. "They did a great job with their presentation. Humbled to be included in that process. At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

The same faulty speculative reasoning that had McDaniels as good as gone from the Patriots will move on undeterred today and surmise that McDaniels is staying with the Patriots because he knows, or has been promised, that he'll receive the head coaching job when Bill Belichick steps aside. 

While the Kraft family certainly thinks highly of McDaniels and that could come to pass, anyone tapping their foot and checking their watch waiting for Belichick to step down is in for a long wait. He's showing no signs of wrapping it up and, while I haven't been told directly McDaniels isn't the automatic successor, he wouldn't be taking interviews at all if he were assured that. 

What will be interesting to see is whether interest remains high in him for other jobs or the perception that he's never going to leave means teams don't bother to ask. San Fran obviously had its heart set on McDaniels. Even though Nick Caserio passed on the chance to interview with the Niners for their open GM job, the team did talk to Louis Riddick about the spot. He and McDaniels have high regard for each other. 

Between McDaniels, Caserio and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, the people closest to Belichick on the coaching flow chart all had chances to go somewhere else and all passed on the chance. It's another example of not why the Patriots are good but why they remain good. Stability. 
 

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Monday, Jan. 15: Matthews jersey sells for big money

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering what Claude Julien would do if one of the Bruins players was running Facebook Live during his postgame comments.
 
*Auston Matthews is obviously making a huge impression in Toronto as his Centennial Classic jersey sold for over $11,000 at a charity auction.
 
*Clark Booth knows it’s time to talk about the NFL, but instead he wants to talk about Milt Schmidt. I agree with Clark.

*Sabres goalie Robin Lehner says that his Buffalo teammates need to start doing their job as the season circles down the drain.

*Pierre McGuire talks with TSN sports radio about the Ottawa Senators, and the tough road trip coming up for them.
 
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has more bad news for the Tampa Bay Lightning as Ryan Callahan is going to be out for another four weeks with a lower body injury.
 
*As the Detroit Red Wings continue to round up the bottom in the Atlantic Division, Thomas Vanek may become trade bait.
 
*Peter Budaj is giving the Kings the saves that they need with Jonathan Quick out long term with injury.
 
*For something completely different: Tom E. Curran points out some togetherness issues with the Pittsburgh Steelers based on Antonio Brown’s Facebook post.