Many Patriots fans have come to the conclusion that when Bill Belichick ultimately stops patrolling the sidelines, that Josh McDaniels will step in as the next head coach. Why wouldnt we want that? McDaniels of course is the young hotshot offensive coordinator, who in 2007 called the plays for the most dynamic offense of all time. He is the offensive coordinator who took a quarterback who hadn't started a game since highschool and won 11 games. McDaniels is overrated in my book, and has no business being the head coach of the Patriots anytime soon.
I don't believe that Josh McDaniels is a bad coach. He has a very high football IQ, however he has at times put game plans together that prohibit his team from winning. From 2000-2004 Charlie Weis called the plays in New England and his team closed games. Let me take you back to the final game of the 2006 season. Before the likes of Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth made Josh McDaniels a star. The Patriots jumped out to an early 21-6 lead in the AFC championship game. This was a lead many thought was safe. And why not, many times in the previous four years the Patriots defense and offense put teams away. It was 21-6 at half after the Patriots had scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Logan Mankins on a run, a seven yard run by Corey Dillon and a interception return by Asante Samuel. They had run the ball 19 times in the first half for 85 yards. While only attempting 13 passes. They were owning the line of scrimmage and keeping Peyton Manning and the high scoring Colts off of the field. To start the second half Manning lead the Colts on a 14 play touch down drive to pull within a touchdown at 21-13. The drive lasted 6:43 On New England's first possession of the second half they went three and out. The first play was a Brady incompletion, the second an eight yard run by Kevin Faulk followed by an incompletion. The drive lasted one minute and five seconds. After the punt a tired New England defense was put back on the field. Eight plays and a two point conversion later and it was a tie game at 21-21. We all know what happened next, the Patriots ended up losing the game. After being up 15 points at half time the Patriots ran the ball a grand total of five times for eight yards. They didn't lose the lead until one minute and two seconds left in the game when the Colts went ahead 38-34. Yet for some reason McDaniels went away from the running game and passed 21 times in the second half. That is not the way to win. McDaniels is too smart for his own good. He thinks you can win by throwing instead of taking valuable time off the clock and resting a tired defense.
Fast forward to the Super Bowl the following season. The Patriots of course were undefeated. Their offense was scoring in bunches and Brady and Moss had set records for touchdowns in a season. In the playoffs against Jacksonville, Brady was magnificent, but Lawrence Maroney was also great running 22 times for 122 yards. The team actually rushed more times 29 then passed 28. In the AFC Championship game against the Chargers the Patriots won. Tom Brady was pedestrian throwing three interceptions, yet Maroney rushed 25 times for 122 yards. The last eight plays of the game encompassing over four minutes were six Maroney rushing attempts and two Brady kneel downs. In the Super Bowl against the Giants the Patriots started their first drive with eight passing attempts and five runs. They scored to take the lead 7-3. the five runs gained 16 yards and a touch down. Not great numbers but it kept the Giants honest. The rest of the game the Patriots only rushed the ball nine times while throwing it 40. The Patriots only scoring drive of the game before the last scoring drive was the most balance. Why didn't McDaniels run more? Brady was killed that game by the Giants "NASCAR" package. The Giants didn't have to worry about a running game because the Patriots went away from it and became one dimensional.
After the 2008 season McDaniels became the head coach of the Broncos. He started his young career with six wins versus zero losses. In those six games they played with balance. A high water mark of 45 rushes in a week three win against the Oakland Raiders. After the 6-0 start the Broncos only won two more games. Not surprising the two games they committed to a balance attack and ran more than they passed. The rest of the seasons eight losses all had a pass biased stat line.
This brings us to the Patriots of 2013. Even before the Aaron Hernandez trouble, the Rob Gronkowski injury and the cutting of Brandon Lloyd it was evident that the Patriots should rely more on the run game. With the loss of five of Brady's best targets the passing game hasn't been Patriot like. Yet the team is off to a 5-2 start. The two losses have something too similar in common. A complete lack of dedication to the run. In the two losses they have rushed 18 times against the Bengals and 20 times versus the Jets. In each of the Patriots five victories the team has rushed more than 30 times per game. Someday Josh McDaniels will realize that in order for most teams to be successful you must rely on balance on offense and a solid defense. This was the hallmark of the Patriots Super Bowl runs. Josh gets too reliant on the pass and calls some very bad games. The two losses saw Brady complete less than 50 percent of his passes and not throw a touch down. Even though the run game was successful in both games, averaging over four yards per carry. In a season of such turnover the running game should continue to be a crutch for this team. Josh McDaniels needs to become more than he is. Brady, Moss and Welker made him a hot commodity. If he ever wants to return to the ranks of head coaching he needs to prove he can develop game plans without hall of fame talent.
It is time for Bill Belichick to take his young assistant aside and give him some Bill Parcells advice. If you run the ball 30 times a game you have a great chance at winning.