PATRIOTS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JOSH MCDANIELS
Q: Why do you think the Patriots struggled on third down on Sunday? What do you think of Scott Chandler right now? Will his role change? How?
JM: The third downs, first of all, credit Denver. They’re a very good defense on all downs, and they do a tremendous job on third down as well of trying to play tight coverage, and they’ve got a good rush. And there are a lot of factors that go into having success there, and they did a better job than we did on Sunday night. I think the big thing for us is to try to eliminate all the third-and-longs. I think we had 10 of our 13 or 15 third downs were third down and eight or nine or more. And that goes back to just overall production and efficiency on first and second down and trying to stay out of those long yardage situations, which are certainly by percentage a lot more difficult to convert than the third and shorts. I think it’s all tied together. What you’re doing on first and second down certainly affects your ability to succeed on third down. And we can coach better, and hopefully, we can execute better to put ourselves in better situations. Scott made some plays for us the other night. He’s done that off and on during the course of the year. When we’ve called on him and needed him to do some things and asked him to make some plays in critical situations, he’s stepped up and done that for us and did it again the other night. He’s a talented guy. He’s always been a guy who could produce in the middle of the field, down the field on some vertical-type plays and in the red area. So he did that again for us the other night. We’ve been happy with the things he’s been able to give us, and if his role expands here a little bit as we come down the stretch, then I’m sure he’ll be ready to handle that.
Q: Do you feel comfortable using Chandler in similar ways that you would use Rob Gronkowski?
JM: I think Rob is a very unique player, and it would be difficult for anybody to come in and do the same exact things that Rob does in any capacity. I think that we have some guys in the skilled group that we try to put in positions where we feel like those are things that they do well, whether that be the receivers, the tight ends or the running backs. And if it’s not something where we feel comfortable with them or they don’t feel comfortable doing it, then we’re going to try to do as many things that fit the personnel we have on a week-to-week basis as we can. So Rob certainly has a broad spectrum of things that he allows us to do, and other players have different unique skillsets that we try to utilize as well. But I don’t think there are really any two players that are the same, and when you’re comparing and contrasting, I think that’s difficult to do. But we’re going to try to do the best we can with everybody that we have, put them in the right positions to be able to make the plays that they certainly can make.
Q: What do you see in the Eagles defense?
JM: I think it’s a very aggressive group. I know Coach [Billy] Davis. We worked against him in training camp a few years in a row, you know, ‘13 and ‘14. And this is a group that plays really hard, has a lot of high motor, high effort players at all three levels, very disruptive front, very athletic and unique type of linebacking corps. I mean, they’ve got some guys with length and power on the edge. They’ve got some guys with great speed and quickness inside and great instincts. They’ve got a really good group there at the linebacking group, and then their secondary is a group that is very instinctive, makes a lot of plays. They’ve intercepted quite a few balls. They get their hands on or around a lot of footballs, and they take advantage of a lot of bad plays or sloppy plays in the passing game.