McDaniels blistered Patriots offense for dry spell vs. Texans

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McDaniels blistered Patriots offense for dry spell vs. Texans

Early in the fourth quarter Monday night, after the Patriots scored to make it 35-7, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels got loud.

Even though the Patriots had just scored, McDaniels reamed his offense for missed assignments and avoidable errors that had been emerging since early in the second quarter.

When McDaniels was done, Tom Brady gave a "What he said..." amplifier to McDaniels' comments. After the dressing down, the Patriots had a 10-play, 68-yard touchdown drive (albeit against a checked-out Texans defense) to end their evening.

On Tuesday, McDaniels discussed the message he was sending.

"The big thing I was saying really has more to do with the things that we can control," said McDaniels. "I thought we had some unforced errors that we can prevent. When you're playing a good team, they're gonna make some plays and hopefully you're gonna make some plays, but the ones you need to prevent are the ones that have nothing to do with something that they did.

"We had a couple balls on the ground last night," McDaniels pointed out. "We had a couple drops. We had a couple of missed assignments in protection. For us to be able to go out there and execute against a good team and sustain that level, you've gotta first start with doing your job right. I think that was really all I was saying and trying to get us to finish the game there."

After scoring their third straight touchdown to open the game, the Patriots ran 23 plays on their next six drives. One of those was a five-play touchdown drive culminating in a third-down bomb to Donte' Stallworth. The other five drives gained 34 total yards and four of them were three-and-outs.

"We started off and played some really good football and did some good things and then we did have a few three-and-outs there right in a row consecutively which you never like to do because it puts the defense back out there quickly," McDaniels noted. "Credit goes to (the Texans), they did a lot of good things. They pressured us, they came after us and that was really a big point in the game and they made some plays in that stretch that forced us off the field."

Had the Texans offense been able to do anything against a New England defense that ruined their game plan, the game could have narrowed during that stretch. That, McDaniels seemed to be saying, was what he was concerned with. What happened is important. But what could have happened was as well.

"Before we even start dealing with scheme and blitzes and all that, let's just take care of our assignment and have that be the starting point for our offense," McDaniels said. "When you do that, you always give yourself a chance. Whenever you hit a lull, it's always good to come back and talk about doing your job right and I think that's what the message was when I was talking to them."

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Jimmy Garoppolo can't help but hear trade rumors that involve his name. He heard all about them during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Now his mom's keeping him up to date. 

"My mom loves telling me the news updates," Garoppolo told ESPN's Adam Schefter, "so she’s all over that stuff, but it’s been working really well . . . 

"I’m telling you, she could be your assistant. She’s all over the place. Her and my dad on Twitter and stuff like that. I don’t even think they know how to tweet, but they always have something going on . . .

"They know what to hit me with and what to keep quiet. They know me so well that they know what I’d like to hear and what I don’t need to hear. There’s a couple slip-ups here and there, I’m not going to lie to you, but they’re just so excited about it. It’s an exciting time, and they’re loving it."

Garoppolo tried his best to deflect questions about his future as he prepared for Super Bowl LI, but he could only insulate himself so much from those conversations. After six quarters of well-played football, he's chummed the waters for quarterback-starved franchises. As the draft nears, offers are expected to hit the Gillette Stadium offices, and it will be up to Bill Belichick and his staff to determine whether they should part ways with Tom Brady's backup. 

Schefter asked Garoppolo about one team in particular that could be interested: the Chicago Bears. Their general manager Ryan Pace is an Eastern Illinois alum, like Garoppolo, and Garoppolo is a Chicago-area kid. 

"I get asked about [that possibility] all the time from my friends and family back in Chicago," Garoppolo said. "They’re good reporters, my family. But I keep telling them I really don’t know how it would feel until . . . if it was to happen, I wouldn’t know how I’d feel until it did, you know? So it’s kind of one of those things, it’s hard to say right now."

Garoppolo added: "For the most part I am just trying to stay level-headed, trying not to think about it, over think it too much because at the end of the day I am still under contract. It is not my decision if I get traded or if I don’t, so I am just trying to take it all in stride. At the end of the day, you just have to enjoy it. The NFL, it is a hard place to be, hard place to succeed and when you get an opportunity you have to go and take advantage of it."

The idea of getting an opportunity, though, is an enticing one. Before the 2016 season, Garoppolo was very open about how he looked forward to his opportunity to start with Brady suspended for the first four weeks of the season. And with Schefter, he acknowledged that there are times when it's hard not to be impatient when you're the guy behind the guy.

"There’s times," Garoppolo said. "Obviously the kickoff happens and you are ready to roll. The juices get flowing again. You get the adrenaline, the butterflies. It’s football, you have to love the atmosphere . . . 

"We all play the game. We all want to be out there on the field and get an opportunity to play. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there is probably the best way to put it. We’re competitors at the end of the day. We want to be out there, I want to be out there competing and playing with my teammates.”