McDaniels putting his mark on offense

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McDaniels putting his mark on offense

The Patriots have made a few key signings so far this offseason, but one of the more interesting ones was that of wide receiver Donte' Stallworth.

Stallworth was a key player on the Patriots' historic 2007 team, catching 46 balls for 697 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He was Tom Brady's third receiving option behind Wes Welker and Randy Moss before parting ways with the team after the season.

Now he's back, and a big reason for that could be due to the return of Josh McDaniels as the Pats offensive coordinator.
With Welker still with the team, Brandon Lloyd signed, and Stallworth back, the Patriots have three wide receivers that McDaniels is very familiar in working with. He's got an obvious grasp of the system from years past -- and from working with the team towards the end of last season -- and has an entire offseason of preparation ahead as well.

The offense really shouldn't skip a beat with McDaniels on board, and bringing on Lloyd and Stallworth make it extra smooth. Not to say that Bill Belichick would have worried much about McDaniels if LloydStallworth didn't happen, but it's just another reason that he doesn't have to now.

I'm reading a book called "Don't Take Your Eye Off the Ball" by Pat Kirwan (a long-time, well-respected NFL analyst, former Jets defensive assistant coach and director of player administration) and one paragraph stuck out to me that I think could relate to this a little.

Kirwan writes: "Usually a head coach came up through the ranks on one side of the ball or the other. Tom Coughlin is an offensive guy. Pete Carroll is a defensive guy. Many times, coaches will build the game plan for the side of the ball they're most passionate about (and most experienced with), and then let their coordinators on the other side build their own game plan. Of course, those coordinators are going to present everything to the head coach before it's installed."

It's no secret that Belichick came up on the defensive side of the ball. It's also no secret that he has a lot of faith in McDaniels (offensive side of the ball), who the Patriots literally couldn't wait to bring on board once he got out of his contract with the Rams. That said, Belichick's certainly had his hand in the Patriots offense over the years, and will continue to. The point is that maybe he's more comfortable handing the offensive reigns over to McDaniels, giving him a longer leash to design and run his own stuff with. Don't forget, Belichick didn't officially give the "offensive coordinator" title to Bill O'Brien until 2011, two years after McDaniels left the position. But he wasted no time handing it back to McDaniels upon his return.

It wouldn't surprise anyone to hear that Belichick is spending more time focusing on the defense, seeing as that was the weaker side of the ball and has been for the past few seasons. Is he more "passionate" about defense? Well, he's passionate about winning. And being able to concentrate more on areas of need -- while still working close enough with McDaniels -- could prove to be the difference.

Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

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Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-3 loss to the Rangers:

 

QUOTES

* “On a night when he didn’t have the consistency to the knuckleball that we’ve seen from many of his starts, he went to his fastball a little bit more. [Against] a good fastball hitting team . . . He’s typically made good adjustments staying over the rubber to get his release point out front -- that wasn’t the case [tonight].” John Farrell said about Steven Wright struggling with his knuckleball in his 4.2 inning outing.

* “The ball was spinning a lot out of my hand. It was a little bit hard to grip the ball because the humidity. But it was the opposite -- it was real sticky. That’s the first time I’ve had that ever. But I still felt like I should have figured that out. It was one of those things where I think I started trying to hard . . . I was trying to the throw the kitchen sink at them but it wasn’t working.” Steven Wright said about struggling to find his knuckleball in the 10-3 loss.

* “It’s hard for me because you want to go out there and try and go as deep as you can to try to help the bullpen, but, you know, today was tough, a tough day for me.” Wright said on his disappointment with only going 4.2 innings.

 

 

NOTES

 

* Hanley Ramirez laced his fourth homerun in his last 11 games. In his nine career games at Texas, Ramirez has six homeruns.

* David Ortiz went hitless for the first time since June 12th. Boston’s designated hitter also hasn’t hit a home run since June 17th -- his third longest homerless spell of 2016.

* Xander Bogaerts scored his 57th run of the season, putting him one run behind Ian Kinsler -- the fourth highest total in the majors.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Adrian Beltre

The ex-Red Sox third baseman finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk -- scoring the team high three runs.

 

2) Ian Desmond

Desmond laced his 13th homer of the season in his second at-bat of the game, sparking Texas’ offense with its first run of the game.

 

3) Elvis Andrus

Andrus ended Steven Wright’s day quickly with a three-run triple in the fifth inning, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks and a run.

First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

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First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

First impressions of the Red Sox 10-3 loss to Texas:

 

Steven Wright can’t be stellar every night.

Although it’s seemed like it lately, it’s just not possible -- especially with a knuckleball.

He wasn’t even that bad Saturday night. He just didn’t get any help from his defense in the fifth frame.

But there’s no denying he didn’t have his best stuff. But whatever the reason, he couldn’t find consistent command or movement from his knuckler and he gave up some hard hits as a result.

Did he receive a fate worse than he pitched? Yes. But what Boston saw from Wright in his Saturday start is there will be times his go-to pitch is off -- and there’s really no way to work around that.

 

Hanley Ramirez’s “timing issue” seems to be coming around.

Although he hasn’t necessarily caught fire, Ramirez hit another home run -- once again to right field.

He’s shown more patience at the plate, and not trying to pull every ball out of the yard.

Ramirez doesn’t have everything completely figured out, but his homeruns have been plenty valuable at this point.

 

Ian Desmond is no joke.

The newly converted centerfielder is 5-for-10 against Boston pitching this series with a run and two RBI.

The ex-Nationals shortstop has good pop and good speed still. He seems to be a lot more comfortable in his new home after hitting .233 for Washington last year with 19 homeruns -- hitting his 13th Saturday night.

 

For all the criticisms Boston’s bullpen has received, the Rangers’ is definitely worse.

Although there wasn’t the same miraculous comeback witnessed Friday night -- and Boston’s pen wasn’t particularly stellar in the loss -- the Ranger relievers did not look good in the second game of the series.

They put themselves into deep counts right away -- and was lucky Boston’s offense was off.

Boston’s bullpen has its faults -- no question -- but it’s not nearly as bad as the one in Texas.

 

The Red Sox unfortunately have to rely on Clay Buchholz Sunday.

The bullpen is beaten down once again. The righty is still fighting for his job, so this would be the best time for him to pitch competitively into the sixth inning -- and maybe even longer.

Revolution shut out by D.C. United, 2-0

Revolution shut out by D.C. United, 2-0

WASHINGTON -- Lamar Neagle had a goal and an assist to give D.C. United an early lead that stood up in a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday night.

D.C., after being shut out in its two previous games and four of six, opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Luciano Acosta chipped a perfect pass over the defense to the foot of Neagle, who volleyed it in from 10 yards out.

Sean Franklin scored the second goal, his first of the season, when he knocked in Neagle's cross. Albaro Saborio sent a long ball down the right sideline that Neagle ran down and crossed to Franklin for the easy counter.

D.C. (5-6-5) leapfrogged the Revolution (4-5-7) into fifth in the Eastern Conference with its fourth shutout in the last seven games and improved to 2-0-1 in the series this season.