Josh McDaniels, first-year coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, says New England needed to change its offense to make sure it did not become stale. “You stay the same in this league, and there’s great coaches and players on the other side, and they just run you down,” said McDaniels. Doug Murray/Associated Press

Seeing Josh McDaniels lead the Raiders during the joint practices has been a painful reminder of what the Patriots had in their coaching room, leading their offense, not to mention what he provided for promising young quarterback Mac Jones.

For two days, it’s been an in-your-face refresher of how good the Patriots had it. Moreover, seeing how the Raiders have been able to adapt at a quicker pace to the complex offense McDaniels ran in New England, how he’s been able to teach it, merely provides another slap at the Patriots for installing a new offense, with coaches who have little to no experience coaching that side of the ball.

Those are all worthy gripes.

But listening to McDaniels during his press briefing Wednesday, the Raiders head coach lent some credence to why the Patriots needed to make a change without him. He explained why installing a “new” offense made sense.

In short, it’s about evolution. It’s about not being predictable. It’s about making adjustments to be more competitive against certain teams that have had your number in recent games.

“Each year is an evolution. Honestly, I’ve never wanted to stay the same from one year to the next, because I’ve always been fearful of what that result would produce,” McDaniels said during his Wednesday press conference in Las Vegas. “You stay the same in this league, and there’s great coaches and players on the other side, and they just run you down. And then, you’re trying to run the same things you were last year, and wonder why they’re not working as well.”


In the Patriots case, Buffalo comes to mind in terms of trying to evolve with a new scheme.

The Pats scored just 17 points in the AFC wild-card blowout loss to the Bills in January. During their regular-season games the past two years, the offense didn’t register a single passing touchdown. And that was with McDaniels leading them.

So yes, changing, altering, or tweaking makes sense.

And, to a degree, so does having the offense take some lumps, which has been the case with the Patriots throughout training camp, as elements of the new scheme are installed. Jones spoke on Tuesday about how failing during the preseason doesn’t really apply to what might happen down the road. McDaniels expanded on that notion.

“Failure is part of this process, and we do it on purpose. We have to try things that may be difficult, may be hard, maybe we’re not ready to do them. But when we do those things, we learn a lot about ourselves,” McDaniels said. “Whether we learn how to do that technique or that scheme better, or we learn that that’s not something that’s for us right now.

“And so if we just did what was safe, and what everybody knew, I don’t know how much progress we’d make, and I’m speaking for every team in the league … If you never put ’em in a hard position, you’re not going to learn a whole lot about them.”


That sounds good. Except with the Patriots, why has Bill Belichick chosen to evoke change with coaches who are newbies to coaching offense? Why would he entrust the well-being of Jones, their most important player, to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge?

While McDaniels said he didn’t know what the actual dynamics were in terms of who’s coaching what for the Patriots, he could relate to what Belichick was doing.

He did the same with him.

McDaniels had been on the defensive side of the ball and coaching that phase for the Patriots, before moving to coach the quarterbacks for a year. Aside from being a quarterback in high school, and receiver in college, that was all the experience he had before Belichick asked him to be the play-caller.

McDaniels said people didn’t believe he was actually running the offense at the time, but Belichick pushed him into the fire, and the rest is history.

“Look, I think at the end of the day, Bill has a plan for whatever he wants to do,” said McDaniels. “He has foresight that some of the rest of us don’t have. I didn’t have it when he pushed me ahead and helped me do that.”


The plan certainly worked with McDaniels. It remains to be seen with Patricia, Judge and Belichick all having their fingerprints on the offensive equation.

Jones and the Patriots offense, had a better overall day Wednesday, once again finishing strong in the joint sessions with the Raiders. McDaniels certainly knows what Jones is capable of, and what his future holds. The hope in New England is that Jones doesn’t regress from where McDaniels had him his rookie year.

McDaniels said he “thinks the world” of Jones. He’s high up on the list of things he’ll miss most with the Patriots.

“Love that kid, I really do,” said McDaniels. “Spent a lot of time with him, obviously, last year. Great human being, got a bright future, a really competitive guy that wants to do it right, wants to do everything right.”

Only, it’s been a frustrating endeavor for Jones to this point. But then again, Belichick has a plan.

It remains to be seen if this one turns out right

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