On McDaniels, pass-run calls and bus-rolling

On McDaniels, pass-run calls and bus-rolling
December 17, 2013, 10:15 pm
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Lotta time in the car commuting from Burlington to Foxboro Tuesday afternoon meant a lot of time for sports radio.
 
Ping-ponging back-and-forth between WEEI and The Sports Hub while squinting through the blizzard, I pulled into Gillette Stadium around 6 p.m. in time to hear Adam Jones tease his take on Josh McDaniels throwing Tom Brady “under the bus” during his conference call.
 
According to Jones, McDaniels bristled at a question about red-zone play-calling. Tony Massarotti giggled about how they’d manipulate that story on Wednesday and Jones’ show began.
 
Here’s the question in question.
 
“When you looked back at the Miami game, did you get any feeling that you should have sprinkled a few more runs into the play calling after the early success that you had running the ball?”
 
Here’s the answer:
 
“The Miami question, that’s a tough one because a lot of times we have multiple options in the huddle, and sometimes you end up with the perfect blend and perfect balance when you do that, and sometimes the defense, when you’re trying to get certain things against a specific look, sometimes you can get a little skewed,” McDaniels began. “We certainly don’t want to take the freedom away from our quarterback to get us into a good play and we don’t want to become just a call-it-on-the-sideline team when we have a quarterback that’s capable of doing a lot of good things with our offense at the line of scrimmage.

"There are always things you wish - could I have done this? Or could I have done that? There’s no question that you come out of each game and you say that, whether you win by 30 points or lose by three or four. You always say, ‘Man, I could have done that better.’ I definitely make a lot of mistakes each week and I wish I was a guy that could call a perfect game every time out. That’s what I try to do each week when I prepare, and hopefully we are going to put ourselves in a situation each week to be balanced and find the perfect blend of run/pass that suits our team and give our offense the best opportunity to score each week.”
 
See the bus throwing in there? Me neither. Nor the red zone aspect.
 
Only a portion of McDaniels’ answer was played, though, so the listener was unable to discern that “red zone” wasn’t actually part of the question.
 
Whatever. It’s a storyline.

What is pertinent is the explanation that, when Brady gets to the line he’s going to have a run-pass option on a lot of plays. And after 14 seasons in the NFL and a pretty good track record of discerning what a defense has loaded up for. In my estimation, McDaniels is going to defer to Brady’s judgment and – if McDaniels is adamant – Brady would run the play McDaniels calls for.
 
When a play doesn’t work – red zone, middle of the field, your own goal line – it was either doomed from the start because the defense did a good job of disguising and got into something unexpected or you got beat by the defense (“execution”).
 
I asked Bill Belichick Monday about the red-zone play-calling.
 
“I thought we had a mixture of plays in the red area,” he said. “The first drive, we hit the quick out to Julian [Edelman] down there on their sideline and we were second-and-four, which isn’t a bad place to be and ended up not being able to finish it. Then I think on the other series, we ran the ball on second down – first down threw it, second down we ran it, got it to third-and-two and they pressured us and we weren’t able to get a good execution on the passing game. They were trying to disguise their coverages. They pressured us some down there, they showed some pressure and pulled out of it, which are things they’ve done in the past.”
 
When you throw three times inside the 10 – twice from inside the 5 – and settle for a field goal, the knee-jerk is to wonder why an offense didn’t run. And that’s not the wrong reaction.
 
But I don’t see any franchise quarterbacks rolling under any buses in those replies. I don’t even see any buses.