Curran: 5 from the first

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Curran: 5 from the first

FOXBORO -- Five thoughts from the first half:
Pretty sloppy first half with eight penalties, two fumbles and two interceptions. Sometimes it looks a little ragged when two teams who haven't faced each other in a while try to feel each other out. That seems to be the case here.
After two games in which they kept outside receivers relatively (RELATIVELY!) quiet, Dez Bryant has gotten after the Patriots' secondary with four first-half catches for 78 yards. On one third-and-8 reception on the Cowboys' first drive, Devin McCourty - singled up on Bryant - gave a wide cushion that was slow to close on a deep in-cut that went for 21 yards. Bryant also had a terrific catch-and-run on which he made a catch on the sideline, deked Gary Guyton and Patrick Chung to the ground then rumbled for extra yards. The Patriots have been bringing extra blitzers at Tony Romo today. The first-half pick by Romo was aided by a pressure from Brandon Spikes. Blitzes by Kyle Arrington and Guyton didn't yield positive results, though. So far, it's hard to say definitively that Rob Ryan's edge as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator has carried over too drastically. The Patriots have gone up-tempo to take advantage of the Cowboys personnel changes on a couple of plays. They also schemed up a tight end screen to Rob Gronkowski that gained 20. Brady's been sacked twice and has had to deal with pressure. Not a good half for rookie Nate Solder and Logan Mankins had an uncharacteristic missed block on one of the sacks. Good half for veteran defensive tackle Gerard Warren. He had a tackle-for-loss and a rush tht resulted in a big holding call on Kyle Kosier that wiped out an end zone pass interference on McCourty (McCourty seemed to be expecting safety help from Chung on the play and was forced to run into the intended receiver). Chad Ochocinco's been a non-factor. Just like the t-shirts say.

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."