Post-Tom Brady, Josh McDaniels has more to prove than Bill Belichick

Ryan Hannable
April 15, 2020 - 6:00 am
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The 2020 Patriots are going to look a lot different not only from the 2019 edition, but perhaps any New England squad in the last 20 or so years.

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With Tom Brady out of the picture, it appears the Patriots offense is going to undergo some tweaking this offseason.

“Over the last two decades, everything we did, every single decision we made in terms of major planning, was made with the idea of how to make things best for Tom Brady,” Bill Belichick said on a conference call Monday.

That will now change, starting this offseason. 

“Whoever the quarterback is, we’ll try to make things work smoothly and efficiently for that player and take advantage of his strengths and his skills,” Belichick added. “Each of us has different skills. Each quarterback has a different skillset, and whatever things that particular player does well, we’ll try to work towards and feature, or at least give him an opportunity to do those. And the things that either he doesn’t do well or needs more experience at or whatever the case might be, then we’ll try to minimize or until those things improve, work around them.” 

As it relates to who will head up this transition, it’s mostly on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. And because of that, it’s McDaniels that has more to prove without Brady at quarterback than Belichick.

Everyone knows Belichick is a tremendous coach, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. On the other hand, not as much is known with McDaniels. An argument could be made he’s been so successful because of Brady and the system that was in place before he even took over as offensive coordinator.

Now that Brady is gone, this is solely McDaniels’ offense and while this may be the most challenging offseason of his career, it will also give him a chance to prove just how good of a football mind he really is.

While Belichick is head coach, he primarily allows McDaniels to do his own thing, especially as the years have gone on. The coach isn’t going to be holding McDaniels’ hand when it comes to this transition, he’s likely going to allow him to do his thing.

This means what happens with the Patriots offense moving forward falls more on the shoulders of McDaniels than it does on Belichick.

The Patriots offense has been centered around the quarterback (Brady) standing in the pocket and getting rid of the ball quickly. In fact, Brady has had some of the fastest snap-to-throw times in the entire league over the years. 

Now, with perhaps a younger and more mobile quarterback in place, expect some changes — more rollouts, more plays designed to have the quarterback throw on the run, more plays that take more time to develop.

All these involve McDaniels showing more creativity with his play designs.

While it was only a four-game sample, McDaniels did show he’s capable of change in the 2016 season when Brady missed the first four games when he was suspended due to Deflategate. The Patriots went 3-1 with Jimmy Garoppolo and then Jacoby Brissett under center after Garoppolo suffered an AC joint injury during the Week 2 game against Miami.

The third game really showcased what McDaniels could do as he adapted to Brissett’s skills, on a short week nonetheless, when the Patriots rolled to a 27-0 win on Thursday Night Football. Brissett went 11-for-19 passing for 103 yards, but also added 48 yards rushing, including a 27-yard touchdown.

If McDaniels could change the offense in three days, there should be tremendous faith he can do it, and do it well, with an entire offseason.

Everyone wants to debate who needs each other more — Belichick or Brady — but the more appropriate debate is actually McDaniels or Brady.

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