Belichick: Vereen running into Pats' plans

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Belichick: Vereen running into Pats' plans

FOXBORO -- Running back Shane Vereen got his most reps of the season out of the backfield on Sunday against the New York Jets.

In a conference call on Monday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised Vereen for being prepared for the opportunity that came his way over the weekend. He called for all of his players to be ready for that opportunity, like Vereen was.

But on Tuesday, Belichick opened up even more about Vereen's value to the Patriots, saying that the second-year running back is capable of making his own opportunity, and that he hopes Vereen does just that.

"Shane's a smart kid," said Belichick. "I think he has a good understanding of the game, the running game, the passing game, pass protection, space plays. Where to be, how to get open and find space, that kind of thing. He's an elusive guy, he's got good balance. He's got good playing strength for his size. He's not the biggest guy, but he's got good playing strength.

"So he gives us some versatility there, and I think he's able to run inside, run in some traffic, but he's a good space player on the edge and in the passing game, that kind of thing. He's really got good value for us."

Vereen had eight carries for 49 total yards on Sunday. Prior to that, he had only two carries for one total yard all season. The absence of Brandon Bolden (knee) on Sunday was one reason that Vereen saw more reps against the Jets. But as Belichick pointed out on Tuesday, Vereen's health has played into that more than anything.

Belichick believes that Vereen has plenty of value to this year's Patriots team. And at the end of the day, his reps will increase as he stays healthy, not as others get injured.

"I don't hope anything happens to anybody else, but hopefully he'll get more opportunities, because I think he can contribute for us," said Belichick. "More of it is, Shane being healthy and Shane being ready to go, than waiting for something to happen to somebody else. It's more a case of him really being able to go out there and being the player that he is.

"He had a good training camp, and then he kind of got set back there at the end of camp, beginning of the season . . . I do think he can be productive, regardless of who else is out there. He's a good player in his own right, without waiting for somebody else to get injured or whatever."

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. 
 

McDaniels: 'Best for my family and myself' to remain with Patriots

McDaniels: 'Best for my family and myself' to remain with Patriots

Josh McDaniels will be staying put in New England, he said on Monday, because that's what's best for him and his family at this point in time. 

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The Patriots offensive coordinator was a front-runner for the open head-coaching job in San Francisco but has removed his name from consideration.

"I was really impressed with [Niners owner and CEO] Jed York and [Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Football Operations] Praag [Marathe] and [Director of Football Administration and Analytics] Brian [Hampton] and the people that came from the 49ers organization. They did a great job with their presentation. Again, 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."

Next season will be McDaniels' sixth full season back with the Patriots since returning during the playoffs of the 2011 season.

"I've always said how grateful I am to have this opportunity to work here with Mr. Kraft and his family, and coach under Bill with a lot of great guys on our staff, and to have the privilege to get to work with the players that we work with each day," McDaniels said. "It's a great opportunity. I'm very thankful to be here, and very much looking forward to this week against Pittsburgh."