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Is Josh McDaniels hindering or helping the growth of the New England Patriots offensive attack? This past offseason we watched as head coach Bill Belichick went on a spending spree, dishing out $156.9 million dollars worth in guaranteed money to nine newly acquired Patriots. Amongst those nine were four new offensive weapons (Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, and Jonnu Smith) for McDaniels to work with. In addition to this, in the 2021 NFL draft the Patriots added quarterback of the future, Mac Jones, as well as a feature running back Rhamondre Stevenson. So what has Josh McDaniels done so far with this new look Patriots offense… not as much as we may have hoped.
Now don’t get me wrong, this Patriots offense has most certainly taken a huge step forward. Currently ranking 11th in total yards, 8th in points, and 11th in points per game, the Patriots have improved immensely over the course of just one season. However, with that being said the Patriots still rank 17th in passing yards per game, 15th in rushing yards per game, and 26th in red zone touchdown percentage. Now as a unit, they have been executing rather well throughout the course of their seven game win streak which was snapped by the Colts in week 15. However, there is so much untapped potential for this Patriots offense that appears to have been swept under the rug due to the play calling of Josh McDaniels. Draw plays on 3rd and long, pitches on third and short that set the running backs back three yards to start the play, and an endless amount of screens and check down passes on nearly every drive. With rookie quarterback Mac Jones, I can see that wanting to play it safe may be smart, however this has been stemmed from many years prior too when the Patriots had Tom Brady (widely considered the greatest quarterback of all time) commanding our offense. Furthermore, Mac Jones has shown he is the perfect successor to Brady as he ranks 4th in completion percentage as well as the 4th highest graded quarterback in the NFL (according to Pro Football Focus, PFF), yet it seems as if McDaniels has not entrusted him to play the style of football that he had been accustomed to at Alabama. It seems the only time McDaniels tosses a trick play into the mix, or finally dials up a deep ball it is only when they are trailing on the scoreboard and it is a necessity.
Josh McDaniels 14-year tenure with the New England Patriots has given him recognition around the league as a top tier Offensive Coordinator. However, as we ponder over the past two decades, how much credit should be given to McDaniels? Riding alongside the greatest head coach and greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL has given McDaniels ample opportunity for success and his fair share of accolades, whereas in his years spent with different organizations he has failed to live up to the hype. Josh McDaniels is a serviceable coordinator, but with the reins in his hands he has shown that he can do enough to get the job done, but never reach the full level of expectations expected of him.
With coaching vacancies popping up all throughout the league, McDaniels could be out the door at the end of the season in pursuit of a new job. Should he do so, we may finally get a clear cut answer as to whether or not this New England Patriots team is better with or without him.