BOSTON (CBS) — If one were to look solely at points scored, one might look at the Patriots, see that they’ve scored the third-most points in the NFL, and assume that everything is hunky-dory in the land of Tom Brady. Of course, actually watching the games and digging even a little bit beneath the surface, one will quickly know that such is not the case.
Six of the Patriots’ 34 touchdowns — or nearly 18 percent — have been scored by the defense or special teams. And with the Patriots’ defense leading the NFL with 28 takeaways, the Patriots’ offense has not been capitalizing on their added opportunities, evidenced by their 25th-ranked red zone offense.
The offense is clearly not humming the way that its principals would prefer.
And while Brady didn’t dive into too much detail on the way things are going, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels spoke at length on Tuesday about the good, the bad and the ugly from the Patriots’ offense.
“I can’t comment exactly on his frame of mind, I just know that he’s a competitive guy,” McDaniels said on a conference call with reporters, when asked about Brady’s apparent frustration. “We have a lot of competitive guys on our team and we all want to do our best. We have one goal when we go out there on the field every time we have the ball on offense, and that’s to score. When you don’t do as well as you’d like to do, you can understand that they’re — personally or collectively as a unit — you’re frustrated with your output. But at the same time, understanding in the big picture our No. 1 goal and the most important thing for all of us is to contribute to wins.”
On Sunday, the Patriots gained under 300 offensive yards and scored just 17 points, their second-lowest output of the season in both categories. Despite the win, McDaniels understands that “good enough” is not a phrase that has a place in Foxboro.
“I think there was many things the other day that we did that helped contribute to that, and there were certainly things that we did that we want to do better going forward. I’ve been with Tom a long time and I appreciate his competitive spirit, his desire to be perfect in everything he does and with everything that our unit does. I don’t ever take that as a negative,” McDaniels said. “I understand he wants to go out there and do what we all do, which is to put a lot of points on the board every week. I talk to him frequently. We’ve had games where we’ve scored 40 points and we haven’t been real happy either because there’s certain things that we didn’t do as well. Our goal right now is to keep getting better and try to improve.”
While Brady has naturally come into focus for his reaction to Sunday’s game, McDaniels tried to put some of that offensive responsibility on his own shoulders.
“Look, this is my responsibility and I certainly want to look at what I’m doing first and try to figure out what I can do better to try to help put our players in position to be successful each week. That’s what my job is and I’m going to do the best I can at doing that, and I know our guys have a great attitude and approach each week,” McDaniels said. “We continue to try to work hard in practice to improve to eventually play our best football, which we haven’t played yet. There’s a lot of things we can do better, and like I said, I’m going to start with myself and figure out what I can do to make a positive difference for us as we move forward in a lot of areas offensively that we can improve and be better in.”
Brady said this week that even though they’re through Week 11 of the season, the members of the offense are still getting to know each other. McDaniels was asked if he has had to simplify his offense a bit, given all of the new faces on the field in various spots.
“I think that the No. 1 thing you have to do right with your team in order to allow them to play the best they can play in the unit is to understand where your group is at collectively. It doesn’t matter what I want to do or what somebody else wants to do; what matters is what we can do well,” McDaniels answered. “We have to continue to identify those things on a weekly basis, because it’s not the same each week either. The challenge is different based on the defensive personnel, the defensive scheme, the way they utilize their players, the matchups that we’re going to have week in and week out. So, there’s differences there, as well.
“It’s a continuation each week that you evaluate your group and what you can do schematically versus their group and what they do schematically and try to identify the best ways to do that. Again, my expectations this week are that we put together the best plan we can and then go out there and work as hard as we possibly can to get it right in practice so we can go out and play fast and aggressive and the guys can do their jobs well on Sunday. Where we’re at on the spectrum of all that stuff, I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about that. I know my job is to try to figure out what every guy can go out there and do well together, collectively, when the 11 guys that are out there on the field are out there together. Sometimes, there might be less that we can do, but we do the other things better and sometimes you can do more. Like I said, there’s a lot of decisions that go in to that and a lot of things that factor into those decisions each week. Again, like I said, it’s my job to try to figure out how to blend that all together. Our staff is working really hard and diligently on trying to do that, as well. I know our guys are going to have a great attitude and approach this week to try to improve, and our goal is to try to play our best football as we head down the stretch here.”
The next test will be a tough one, as the Cowboys enter Sunday’s game with the seventh-ranked defense in the NFL.