Josh McDaniels

Shane Vereen: Patriots offense 'shifts and morphs to the talent of its players'

Shane Vereen: Patriots offense 'shifts and morphs to the talent of its players'

The New England Patriots have made some major moves on offense this offseason, so there are some questions surrounding the team. However, one former Patriot recently expressed no concerns about the changes that could be coming to the unit in 2019.

Former Patriots running back Shane Vereen recently served as a guest analyst for ESPN and spoke about what to expect from the offense in 2019. Here's what he said about the unit, per ESPN's Mike Reiss.

It's an offense that shifts and morphs to the talent of its players. Josh McDaniels is not stuck in his ways of how he's going to play this game, or call each game. Every game, every week is different. They have different matchups. Different schemes per defense, for each week. That makes the offense difficult to learn, but very difficult to stop because you never really know how they're going to attack you each and every week.

With that being said, with Gronk out, they will have guys to come in to fill his spot. They won't be Gronk, don't get me wrong. There is not another Gronk. We won't see another Gronk for a very, very long time, if we ever see another one. But they have enough talent on that team and they have enough wherewithal to figure it out and still be successful. They've done it for years.

It's good to see that Vereen is confident that the Patriots will figure out a way to replace Gronk. The team lost the top three tight ends from their depth chart last year as Gronkowski retired, Dwayne Allen was cut, and Jacob Hollister was traded. So, they will have a new look at the position this fall.

Veterans Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse will likely have a chance to hold down the fort while Ben Watson serves a four-game suspension, but younger players like Ryan Izzo or undrafted free agent Andrew Beck could also get a chance. 

Still, it will be interesting to see what they ultimately plan on doing at the tight end position, as that has suddenly become the team's biggest question mark on offense. McDaniels will certainly have his work cut out for him in finding a solution there.

But as Vereen pointed out, the Patriots have been adept at replacing talented departures over the course of the years, and they will likely figure out a way to keep their offense humming in 2019. They could choose to adapt their offense to make it more receiver-friendly, while using fewer tight ends, or they could even shift to a ground-and-pound style because of the talent and diversity they have in their backfield.

The Patriots have options, and it will be interesting to see how they choose to run their offense for the '19 season.

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Josh McDaniels addresses turnover on Patriots offensive coaching staff

Josh McDaniels addresses turnover on Patriots offensive coaching staff

FOXBORO – For 10 seasons, Chad O’Shea coached the Patriots wide receivers. When you sit back and consider the array of talent and personalities that passed through his meeting room in those 10 years, it’s pretty amazing.

A roll call for the hell of it? Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Lafell, Danny Amendola, Josh Gordon, Michael Floyd, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins, Keshawn Martin, Reggie Wayne, Joey Galloway, Eric Decker, Kenny Britt, Cordarelle Patterson, Chris Hogan, Torry Holt, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell, Brian Tyms, Austin Collie, Deion Branch, Chad Johnson, Brandon Tate and Sam Aiken.

Some of the biggest names never saw the field or did little when they got there. Others – many others – were undervalued or overlooked and had historic careers or had a hand in winning championships before fading quietly away.

O’Shea is gone now. He’s the offensive coordinator in Miami. Also gone is Jerry Schuplinski, a vital contributor who was assistant quarterbacks coach for the past three seasons. He’s gone to Miami in the same role on Brian Flores' staff.

The new wide receivers coach is Joe Judge, who’s been the special teams coach for the Patriots the past four seasons.

Other than Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett, the rest of the wide receiver corps – Maurice Harris, Demaryius Thomas, Dontrelle Inman, rookie first-rounder N’Keal Harry and undrafted free agents Ryan Davis and Jakobi Myers – is all new.

That’s a lot for Judge to wrangle. And for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels who addressed the turnover on the offensive coaching staff recently.

“We have a great staff now,” said McDaniels. “Joe is certainly gonna do a good job with us offensively. We’ve increased (coaching assistant) Cole (Popovich’s) responsibilities. That’s part of the deal. We have plenty of hands. Chad O’Shea was a great receivers coach. The best one that I’ve ever been around and he’s deserving of the opportunity he has now in Miami and Jerry, likewise. Jerry did a great job here and I’m sure he’ll do a great job in his role down there.”

The change, McDaniels said, isn’t daunting.

“That’s a fun thing for us,” he explained. “When you have change, you have two choices. You can sit and complain about what it’s not like or you can sit there and say, ‘Man, this is kind of cool and fresh and new.’

“It gives you another opportunity to share the foundation of our system and talk about the terminology and the genesis of where things came from that sometimes you don’t do if you’ve been together for a long time,” McDaniels said. “This has been a great opportunity to get back to that. Our group is really good and there’s a different style of energy because there’s a lot of learning going on and everybody’s got a great deal of excitement heading into this spring.”  

The Patriots have hired a fleet of bigger receivers since last season ended. When asked if that’s there new “type”, McDaniels replied, “We don’t have a type. If they’re short and can get open … it really doesn’t matter. We have guys that can go up and get the ball a little bit and we have other guys whose strength is more quickness inside.

“There’s no real prototype for us,” he continued. “Phillip’s one way, N’Keal’s another. Mo Harris is different from how (recently released) Bruce Ellington was. They’re different from Ryan Davis. We have some guys with size, we have some guys who are a little bit smaller but have a little bit better quickness. We’ll see what they can all do out here as we get through OTAs and into training camp and figure out how to use ‘em all.”

There’s a lot of figuring out to be done. All the way around.

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Josh McDaniels: Nobody is going to replace Gronkowski

Josh McDaniels: Nobody is going to replace Gronkowski

FOXBORO -- Tickled as it may make Patriots fans to see that Ben Watson is back in the fold in New England, it probably won't lead them to assume that the team's tight end group will produce as it did a year ago with Rob Gronkowski leading the charge.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels stated the obvious on Friday when he addressed the state of the position with reporters: There is no way to replicate what Gronkowski did for the Patriots.

"Look, nobody's gonna replace Rob," McDaniels said. "It doesn't matter what we're doing or who we bring in. That person is not just going to drop into the offense and say, 'OK, I got his role covered.' That's not gonna happen. 

"I think what you do is you take the best group that you can put together, figure out what their strengths are and try to play to 'em. At this point, it would be unfair for me to say that because I haven't really seen any of them out there in our scheme against a defense. Obviously nothing in pads. I think OTAs and training camp will be big for us this year in terms of evaluating what we have and the way we should play. But, in May, it's tough to say. It's tough to project that."

Projecting how the tight end position will factor into the offense was relatively straightforward for the bulk of Gronkowski's career. When healthy, he was going to be one of Tom Brady's go-to receivers and one of the team's most dominant run-blockers. Now, this spring and summer, there's going to have to be some serious self-scouting that occurs to make sure that the tight ends in uniform on a week-to-week basis — a long way from being determined — are put in positions to succeed.

Watson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse look like the best bets to contribute as veterans who have NFL production on their résumés. Second-year tight end Ryan Izzo could be a factor. Undrafted rookie Andrew Belk, the only rookie at the position brought aboard this offseason, is also looking to carve out a role. 

"Obviously," said tight ends coach Nick Caley, "Rob is a great player. Great. He's done a lot for the organization. We love him. But the focus is really the guys we have here, trying to niche a role, and trying to take on as much responsibility as they can, and be as detailed as they can to allow them to execute. We're a long ways from where we need to be right now. The focus is working to continue to improve, continuing to learn and grow, and any roles they earn will be earned based on what they do moving forward here."

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