Tue, 27 Oct 2020

Unfiltered Notebook 9/15: Patriots offense just getting warmed up

New England Patriots
16 Sep 2020, 20:34 GMT+10

Mike Dussault

The Patriots put up over 200 rushing yards with a renewed attack the heavily featured quarterback Cam Newton against Miami. Newton rushed the ball 15 times, prompting many to wonder if that mode would be sustainable over a 16-game schedule, especially with Newton's injury history.

But Josh McDaniels was well aware that this was just the first game of the season and that the Patriots offense would have to continue to evolve to maintain the effectiveness of this new style of offense.

"Really what it is, it's more a function of what we feel like is best to do against a specific component that we are playing," said McDaniels on Tuesday morning via WebEx. "I know we did some things that we really haven't done much of around here for a long time, or maybe ever, but that's just a function of using the players that you have to the best of your ability against the opponent that you're playing.

"I would say we're gonna be in the same boat as we always are, which is we try to adjust and appropriately change from week to week based on what we think gives us the best chance to have success. No matter what you do one week, you better be ready to handle a totally different challenge the next week and I would say there's probably not a greater discrepancy between two different types of defenses than the two that we're playing to start the season."

The contrast between Miami and Seattle was striking to McDaniels and after seeing the Seahawks defense give up 434 passing yards to the Falcons, it has to be tempting to focus more on throwing the ball this week.

McDaniels seems confident Newton will be ready for whatever the coaches throw at him.

"People talk about his athletic ability but I could sit here and talk a lot about how intelligent he is, what he saw on the field during the course of each series, his communication from one series to the next, his accuracy in the passing game, his poise in the pocket, certain plays going through his progressions," said McDaniels. "He's a pretty complete player and you don't have the type of success in our league at that position without being able to do those things."

Either way, McDaniels was comfortable knowing the Patriots offense would have to build on what they did in Week 1, not try to reproduce it.

"I don't know that any one thing, if you do it over and over and over, is sustainable in our league," said the offensive coordinator. "The coaches and the players each week are too good."

Coaches praise Phillips' versatility and linebacker mentality

We've had plenty on Adrian Phillips in recent days, with his first media availability coming last week and then he checked in again Monday after leading the defense in tackles and picking up an interception in the season-opening win over the Dolphins.

On Tuesday, Phillips was once again a topic of conversation, this time with coaches Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo, who spoke about Phillips' versatility and what the Patriots saw from him as a Charger that made him a good fit in New England.

"Because we have to defend so many different things from a week-to-week basis, teams are using more and more formations and personnel groupings and motions and just deceptive things for the defense, even though a lot of their plays are the same, they look a lot different," said Belichick on Tuesday morning. "I think that's an advantage to have some versatility defensively and also defensive players that are instinctive and can recognize the play and not get distracted by all the other things going around it are guys that can really be productive and have plays that they just anticipate and are there to make a play on.

"[Adrian]'s a smart player, he's tough, he's physical, he runs well and he tackles well and plays, really within the defense, plays a smart game. Glad we have him and he's working well with our other linemen, linebackers and specifically defensive backs, which is where he works the most."

It appears that the Patriots have had their eye on Phillips for a while. He made a notable interception of Lamar Jackson two years ago in the playoffs and was a critical matchup piece for the Chargers against their division rival Chiefs.

"We've seen Adrian all the way through his career," said Belichick. "We've kind of either crossed paths with him or defensively looking at the Chargers against whoever they were playing that we were playing - you know, teams like Denver and Oakland and other AFC teams and so forth. You see those guys, and especially a guy like Adrian that's kind of there every week and shows up on a consistent basis and you kind of watch him play.

"We just felt like with his versatility and ability to help us both on defense and on special teams but not do everything all at once, but he could plug into wherever you needed him, that he really had a lot of value and versatility for our team."

What does inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo like best about him?

"Adrian is a linebacker at heart, he just stopped growing a little sooner than most of us," said Mayo. "He's just a hard-nosed player, he loves to run and tackle and you guys got a chance to see that on the field this past Sunday."

Patriots-Seahawks Stat Check WebEx Quotes of Note

Jerod Mayo on Chase Winovich's development:

"Chase has done an excellent job this off-season in the classroom, all those virtual meetings, we spent extra time together. He was just trying to learn the X's and O's, trying to learn the total scheme and not just what he had to do as an individual. He's always had the physical tools -- the speed, the quickness, the power and also he's a hustler. This guy's always flying around. Chase's done a great job for us and I look forward to seeing him continue to grow."

Bill Belichick on Ryan Izzo:

"Ryan's gotten a lot of snaps, he got a lot of snaps in the game Sunday, but he's gotten a lot more snaps and he's gotten more of an opportunity to work on his craft and improve. He's been able to stay out there and get better in practice, and then that's showed up in the game - and the opportunity to work with Cam [Newton] in the passing game and make some route adjustments or make some good decisions to help the rest of the route based on knowing more of what to do and having more experience doing it has led to a higher, more consistent level of performance on his end."

Josh McDaniels on preferring to play in front of Seattle's fans even if it made things tougher:

"If there could be people in any stadium I think we'd all prefer that. It's a great challenge to go out there, one because they're really well coached and their program has been successful for a long time and two because that place is one of the most electric places on the planet earth to play a football game. "

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