Belichick says McDaniels has done 'solid job'

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Belichick says McDaniels has done 'solid job'

A steady stream of NFL head coaches are cleaning out their offices for good on this Monday morning.

Will Josh McDaniels be moving into one of those offices soon? The likelihood certainly exists. The Patriots offensive coordinator is going to curry attention in at least a few NFL cities over the next month, Philadelphia and Cleveland are among the places that may show interest.

The fact the Patriots earned a bye means that, per NFL rules, contact with McDaniels can be made and an interview can be arranged during this "off" week.

I asked Bill Belichick on Monday to appraise the work of McDaniels this season.

"I do think that the end of the season last year was important, was good, because it gave him an opportunity to interact and see and be involved with first-hand where we were with some of those guys," said Belichick. "Some of them weren't here when he was here before."

McDaniels was hired by the Patriots last January after the coaching staff in St. Louis was jettisoned. McDaniels became the Rams offensive coordinator after an eventful year-and-a-half in Denver as the head coach.

McDaniels' offensive acumen is obvious. He's been the coordinator for Patriots teams that have put up two of the highest scoring seasons in NFL history.

"Josh, he does a good job in all areas," added Belichick. "Player evaluation, scheme, technique, playcalling. He's done a good job. I've been really fortunate with Charlie (Weis), Josh, Billy O'Brien. We've had really good offensive coordinators here along with the rest of the offensive staff because they all work together on it. There's a lot of things that they all contribute in addition to the coordinator. (Josh) has done a solid job for us, as all the assistants have.

"What you need to do in this league is improve," Belichick added. "You have to be a better team at the end than you are at the beginning. (The assistant coaches) worked hard to do that."

Asked if he believed McDaniels was a good candidate, Belichick answered, "As far as any other situation, I have no idea what somebody else is looking for or what their criteria is or what their situation is for that matter. As an outsider I really have no idea about what's going on somewhere else.

"As I said, I think Josh has done a great job this year along with the rest of the offensive staff and the rest of the coaches as well. As it relates to him. Solid job."

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."

Brandin Cooks knows he'll still probably have to stash the arrows in 2017

Brandin Cooks knows he'll still probably have to stash the arrows in 2017

FOXBORO -- Toward the end of Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium, Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks caught a touchdown from Tom Brady in the back corner of the end zone despite close coverage from corner Malcolm Butler. Cooks reached behind him, as if he was pulling an invisible arrow from an invisible quiver on his back, starting what was once his signature touchdown celebration. 

But he stopped there. 

"I didn't want to shoot it," he said with a smile after the workout. "Just having fun out there with the guys, competing every day. That's what it's all about."

Cooks may have to continue showing restraint during the regular season when it comes to his post-touchdown choices. Even though the NFL has eased off of the penalties for certain celebrations, Cooks still probably won't be shooting any arrows in 2017.

"No, I'm gonna be respectful," he said. "If it's a penalty, it's a penalty. I'm not going to do anything to hurt the team . . . I think it still will be [a penalty]."

Cooks was not able to execute his preferred celebration after it was made clear last season that imitating archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for his bow-and-arrow act. 

There is a biblical origin story to Cooks' celebration, he told the New Orleans Advocate last year. 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks said, referring to Psalms 144:6. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

He added: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

After the NFL announced that it was relaxing its policy on penalizing celebrations, Cooks tweeted "#shootyourarrows" four times with several bow-and-arrow emojis. But just a few days later, he appeared resigned to keeping his celebration in moth balls so that his team wouldn't be penalized for an act that the league might deem "threatening." He wasn't thrilled.

"It's for God," he said, "so if that's threatening, then I think we've got a problem."