FOXBORO -- There are few who work inside the walls of Gillette Stadium that know Tom Brady as well as his offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, a man Brady often refers to as a friend.
Brady came to the Patriots organization as an unheralded sixth round draft pick out of Michigan in 2000. McDaniels began his fledging professional coaching career as a personnel assistant with New England a year later. Other than a few seasons where McDaniels left the family -- if you will -- for Denver, the two men have worked closely together and experienced great success.
McDaniels would never betray Brady’s trust, but there’s no doubt that he has a much better feel for Brady’s state of mind as the date for the appeal of the quarterback’s four-game suspension grows near. On Thursday, I asked the 39-year old McDaniels if he had noticed a difference in Brady, professionally or personally. His response shouldn’t surprise you.
"No. No," he said. "He’s the same Tom Brady I’ve always had a chance to coach at this time of year. He’s working extremely hard, he’s got a great attitude. He’s had a very good spring, a very positive influence on our offense and our team. He’s doing everything he can do every day to get better. Nothing different than every year I’ve had a chance to work with him in the past."
Those that are close to Brady have expressed disappointment at the way their friend/teammate has been portrayed since the Deflategate scandal broke and the Wells Report was released. McDaniels, though, took the high road when asked about how the quarterback has been characterized.
"I try to control the things i can control," he said. "I don’t really worry too much about what’s said outside of building. I know he’s working hard to be best he can be and we’re trying to do that with every one of our players."
Doing their best means investing equal time in last year’s second round draft pick, fellow quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, a man who could very well end up starting a game or four depending on how Brady’s appeal to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell goes.
To this point, McDaniels insists the Pats have not altered the way they’ve approached the position during this stage of the offseason program.
"Hasn’t changed anything for us," McDaniels said. "We’re doing the same thing we would have always done. Our quarterbacks, the first two, are getting a lot of the same reps, splitting the same periods. So it’s really business as usual for us. This is the time of year when you want everyone to have the time to rep, make mistakes, learn from ‘em and get better . . . For us, the quarterback position is no different than any other."
Much was made of Garoppolo’s struggles late in one of the OTAs last week, when he ended up being intercepted five times.
Never mind that the players are in helmets, shorts and t-shirts, or that he was throwing to players new to the system (Fred Davis) or maybe on their way out of the system (Josh Boyce). With the overall teeth gnashing about Brady, some fans are demanding perfection from the backup. I’m sure McDaniels wouldn’t pass on such a lofty performance, but he’s not dismayed by bad results here in June.
"This time of year, you look at mistakes as an opportunity to grow from ‘em," he said. "We’re not playing games anytime soon. Any rep any of these young guys take, and any mistakes they make, gives us as a coaching staff a chance to improve em. I think he has a great attitude. In Jimmy’s situation, there are no bad days. I mean we’re either going to get better from some mistakes we made, or make progress and be happy about that."