Pats O-line issues vs. Jets called for quick change

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Pats O-line issues vs. Jets called for quick change

FOXBORO - When the Light went off Sunday night, the Patriots realized they had a communication problem.

This was the scene: Late in the second quarter, Tom Brady got called for intentional grounding in the end zone when Sebastian Vollmer and Danny Woodhead both got bulldozed by Jets' defender Jamaal Westerman. That play was preceded by center Dan Connolly snapping the ball when Tom Brady wasn't looking, a move that resulted in a loose ball that Brady somehow pried away from a Jets defensive lineman.

On the Patriots sideline, offensive tackle Matt Light got up from his seat with his fellow linemen and said in very clear tones that the offensive line was being hung out to dry by the length of time it was taking to establish all the presnap responsibilities.

At that point in the game, the Patriots were huddling and before each snap, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien was being relayed Jets defensive substitutions from the booth upstairs while getting the right playcall established and relayed into Brady.

Brady then would call the play, get to the line, wait for the Jets' defense to declare, identify the middle linebacker to set the blocking schemes, get the changes - if necessary - to the wideouts and backs.

Bill Belichick, when asked about some of the false start penalties Logan Mankins has taken this season, alluded to the hardships the offensive line is under with the style it employs.

"As an offensive team we have too many penalties collectively," Belichick explained. "Some of those false start penalties, although they're certainly the responsibility of the player that false starts, they're also related to a certain degree to coaching, the overall cadence system, the quarterback-center rhythm, timing, calling, if you will. There's a few things involved there. When one guy moves and nobody else does, is he wrong? Yeah. But, the harder we make it, the more likely that is to occur.

"We have to be careful of the advantages to doing things a certain way ... maybe there's some disadvantages to doing them that way too and those are things we talk about and we work on," Belichick added.

Sunday night, after Light made his feelings known, the Patriots went hurry-up. Instead of processing the Jets' defensive alignments and personnel first and then probing for pre-snap voids - essentially letting the Jets defense dictate to them - the Patriots made the Jets react to them by not allowing them to sub and snapping the ball before New York could process what was coming.

It's a good job by Belichick and the offensive staff to realize they were asking a lot from their offensive line Sunday night. Too much, apparently.

"The more things that are involved, the more multiples there are, the more chance that something will go wrong," said Belichick. "If we just go up there and snap the ball on '1', to me, if we have a mistake on that it's a total lack of concentration.

"(But) if you're up there and reading and you have a lot of communication and calls . . . we do that," he acknowledged. "And it helps us in a lot of ways and it certainly enables us to handle some pressure and to make some play calls that we've had tremendous production on.

"I don't want to change that, but at the same time, one of the consequences of that is we've had more false start penalties, things like that. Twelve men in the huddle," Belichick pointed out. "We've gotta eliminate those. That's our responsibility. That's not great defense, that's us not being able to operate cleanly. It starts with the coaches and the system we run and then to the players."

And the Patriots were smart enough Sunday night to tweak the system. Success followed.

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."