During his weekly conference call with reporters, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels touched on two hot topics surrounding the offense following Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins -- red-zone efficiency and the thought that maybe the team got away from the running game.
1. Getting deeper into the red zone: On the two red-zone drives that culminated in field goals, McDaniels pointed out that the final offensive plays came on third-and-goal at the 4, and then third-and-2 at the 5. That's ideal. "Those are not disadvantageous situations to be in. When you get into those situations, you know it comes down to basically that play and that play alone," he said. "You know, Miami, they deserve credit. They did a good job with the way that they played us."
The Dolphins blitzed on both plays. The Patriots picked up the first one, but Tom Brady's pass wasn't hauled in by rookie receiver Josh Boyce as Jimmy Wilson was in coverage. The Patriots didn't pick up the second blitz and Brady quickly fired incomplete.
On Monday, Bill Belichick had explained that the Dolphins were bringing a lot of players to the line of scrimmage to show blitz in the red zone. Sometimes they came, sometimes they backed out and that was part of the chess match. In turn, the Patriots give Brady the flexibility to check out of plays based on the pre-snap look.
"We want to try and give ourselves as many multiple options on those plays as we can," McDaniels said. "We can find some better solutions as we go forward and we can execute our offense down there at a high level; I know we've done it before, and that's what our goal is going to be going forward."
2. More on the running game: Given some of the success the Patriots had running the ball early against the Dolphins, McDaniels was asked if he had the thought, with the benefit of time to review the game, of sprinkling a few more running plays into his play calling. The Patriots finished with 55 pass attempts and 22 rushes, although the numbers are skewed a bit because of the final 14-play drive that was an all-passing situation, and also by some short passes that are essentially glorified running plays.
What resulted from the question to McDaniels was a primer of sorts on the structure of the Patriots' offense, and how many of the plays have run-pass options based on the pre-snap defensive look.
"A lot of times we have multiple options in the huddle, and sometimes you end up with the perfect blend and perfect balance when you do that, and sometimes the defense, when you're trying to get certain things against a specific look, sometimes you can get a little skewed," he said.
"We certainly don't want to take the freedom away from our quarterback to get us into a good play and we don't want to become just a call-it-on-the-sideline team when we have a quarterback that's capable of doing a lot of good things with our offense at the line of scrimmage.
"There are always things you wish ... could I have done this? Or could I have done that? There's no question that you come out of each game and you say that, whether you win by 30 points or lose by three or four. You always say, 'Man, I could have done that better.' I definitely make a lot of mistakes each week and I wish I was a guy that could call a perfect game every time out. That's what I try to do each week when I prepare, and hopefully we are going to put ourselves in a situation each week to be balanced and find the perfect blend of run/pass that suites our team and give our offense the best opportunity to score each week."