Patriots

Five thoughts on Patriots dodging Josh McDaniels departure

Five thoughts on Patriots dodging Josh McDaniels departure

The Patriots won’t have to worry about replacing one of the most important pieces in the organization this offseason.

That became clear on Sunday when it was learned that the Browns had settled on Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, not Josh McDaniels, to fill their head-coaching vacancy. 

Here are five quick-hitting thoughts on what that means for the Patriots moving forward, starting with what it means for McDaniels’ boss.

BELICHICK KEEPS HIS RIGHT-HAND MAN

We went into detail last week on just how heavily Bill Belichick leans on Josh McDaniels at this point in McDaniels’ career. The 43-year-old is the driver of the Patriots offense from not only a play-calling standpoint but a game-planning perspective as well. That much was clear when Belichick lauded McDaniels for his ability to take the offensive reins in the “Do Your Job III” special produced following Super Bowl LIII.

It was even more clearly spelled out this year as Belichick became the de facto defensive coordinator following the departures of Brian Flores and then later Greg Schiano. With Belichick spending the bulk of his time on the defensive side of things, during the week and on game days, that much more fell to McDaniels. Had McDaniels left for Cleveland, there was no obvious fill-in candidate on the Patriots staff, meaning Belichick could’ve seen his role go from de facto defensive coordinator to de facto offensive coordinator in a matter of months.

Taking that possibility off the table has to be considered a victory for a head coach still facing potential turnover at a number of critical spots — including quarterback — during one of the most critical offseasons in franchise history.

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DOMINOS STILL STANDING

Consider what might’ve happened had McDaniels left New England. He may have taken pro scouting director Dave Ziegler with him as general manager in an offseason when the contracts of both director of player personnel Nick Caserio and college scouting director Monti Ossenfort are set to expire. That would’ve been a significant blow to maintaining some front-office consistency this offseason.

Though unclear, it’s also possible the McDaniels would’ve liked to hire familiar faces from the Patriots staff to go with him to Cleveland; former Patriots staffers Ray Ventrone and Frank Ross went to Indianapolis during the 2018 offseason when McDaniels nearly took that job. Plus, would McDaniels’ departure have impacted the future plans made by veteran assistants Dante Scarnecchia and Ivan Fears?

There still could be plenty of staffing shakeup this offseason, but McDaniels sticking in Foxboro takes the worst-case scenario off the board. 

NOT THE RIGHT FIT

My understanding early on in the head-coaching search process was that if the Browns wanted McDaniels, keeping analytics guru Paul DePodesta might be an impediment to that end. Now that we know it’s Stefanski who will be the next head coach in Cleveland, it’s clear which way owner Jimmy Haslam was leaning. He wanted to roll with DePodesta — who served as a baseball executive for years with the A’s, Dodgers, Padres and Mets — not overhaul his organizational hierarchy.

Stefanski was DePodesta’s choice last offseason, but Haslam went with Freddie Kitchens instead. Now DePodesta’s guy is in, and it seems like he has more pull with ownership than ever. For someone like McDaniels, who has learned at the foot of a head coach with complete roster control, the idea of having to work under both DePodesta and Haslam likely wasn’t all that attractive.

GOOD NEWS FOR ‘STID’

The Patriots currently have just two quarterbacks under contract for 2020: Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler. Though both spent a great deal of time with assistant quarterbacks coach Mick Lombardi as they worked to pick up the Patriots offense, having McDaniels around for one more year could pay dividends for a young up-and-comer like Stidham.

The fourth-round pick in 2019 impressed teammates and coaches alike in his first season, and now with a full offseason ahead to continue to grow in the system, he has an opportunity to take several steps in his development as a pro. That might’ve happened whether McDaniels was in town or not, but getting to learn under the same coach, in the same scheme, and having that continuity in both areas would likely lend itself to better results in Year No. 2 than if McDaniels moved to the AFC North.

ROOM FOR STOCK TO RISE

More good news for Stidham: McDaniels has seen positive results developing young quarterbacks not named Tom Brady in the past. Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett all had measures of success as young players in the Patriots system with McDaniels calling the shots. Should Brady play elsewhere in 2020 — Tom E. Curran will have more for you on what McDaniels sticking means for Brady’s future — McDaniels will have an opportunity to help his stock moving forward.

Whether it’s with Stidham or someone else, if McDaniels can have any success with Brady’s successor, if he can prove once again that Patriots offensive efficiency isn’t totally dependent on the greatest quarterback of all time, that would have to help his future head-coaching prospects. Who knows? Some day, maybe a year or two from now, we could be forecasting what it means that McDaniels got a head job in another city.

But for now, thankfully for the Patriots, that conversation can be shelved.

Report: Edelman arrested for vandalism Saturday night

Eminem name-drops Tom Brady on his just-released album

Eminem name-drops Tom Brady on his just-released album

Tom Brady appears to have a kindred spirit as his career continues into his 40s.

Eminem name-drops TB12 on the track "Premonition" off the album "Music To Be Murdered By" which he released on Friday.

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The song takes on the critics of the 47-year-old rapper from Detroit and compares the critiques he gets to ones leveled at LeBron James, 35, and the Patriots quarterback, who'll turn 43 in August. 

Here's part of the song:

“Revival flopped, came back and I scared the crap out ‘em

But Rolling Stone stars, I get two and a half outta

Five, and I’ll laugh out loud

‘Cause that’s what they gave BAD back in the day

Which actually made me not feel as bad now, ‘cause

If it happened to James

It can happen to Shady

They do the same [expletive] to Brady

More people hate me than love me

This game will make you go crazy.”

It's not Eminem's first reference to Brady in one of his songs. In 2013's "Baby", he raps, "I'm what Tom Brady is to the Patriots of rap. Not a man, a weapon."

And it's just the latest Brady reference that has dotted hip-hop and rap since the mid-2000s when the QB led the Pats to the second and third of the six Super Bowl titles they've won. Other artists such as Drake, Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane and Kanye West have referenced him as a symbol of excellence. 

Brady told the Boston Globe last year before the Super Bowl he appreciates it.

 “That’s always really cool,” Brady said. “I’m a big fan of so many of those guys. I have a lot of friends [in music] that I’ve met over the years that are fans of what we do, too...I think that mutual appreciation or admiration is really flattering.”

Aaron Rodgers describes how 'Belichick effect' has impacted the NFL

Aaron Rodgers describes how 'Belichick effect' has impacted the NFL

The Green Bay Packers are preparing for a battle the San Francisco 49ers on the NFL's championship Sunday. The two will square off in the NFC Championship for the right to advance to the Super Bowl.

While Aaron Rodgers and his teammates are doing what they can to be ready for the game, they still aren't exactly sure what to expect from the 49ers.

And Rodgers credited Bill Belichick's influence for that.

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Rodgers explained in a post-practice interview that not knowing what to expect from opposing defenses is something that has been popularized over the course of the past five years. And he called the defense's ability to change up week to week "the Belichick effect".

"I think that’s the NFL in the last five years, especially, it’s kind of the Belichick effect where teams are more reluctant to really try and scheme up opponents instead of relying on their base defense," Rodgers said to reporters.

"There’s less and less teams like the Lovie Smith Bears defenses over the years that say ‘Hey, screw it, we’re going to play four-man front, play Tampa-2 the entire game and make you go the whole field, and strip the ball and tackle securely and stop the run with a six-man, seven-man front.’

"There’s more teams that are scheming specifically up for teams. I think the tough part is it might be different than you saw on film. The drawback from that is a lot of these teams are used to playing coverages they’re not used to playing, they’re not super-comfortable playing, they don’t have a lot of reps in and that can cause some confusion at times."

Rodgers hit the nail on the head as the NFL's best defenses have become more versatile and game plan-dependent in recent seasons. Having multiple defensive looks is essential to success in the modern NFL and Belichick's ability to adjust week in and week out played a big role in kicking off the trend.

Though the Patriots won't have a chance to out scheme anyone on the defensive side of the ball until next season, they can be thankful that they have a forward-thinking coach at the helm. His ability to adjust on defense as well as Josh McDaniels' ability to change the Patriots offense look to match their best weapons have helped to make the team difficult to figure out.

And that's a big part of the reason that they have been able to make multiple deep postseason runs in recent seasons.

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