|Will McDaniels be the difference in Saturday's Denver-New England game? (Of course not.) (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Ryan Wilson
Oh boy. Tom Brady has gone and done it. During his weekly appearance on Boston's WEEI, the Patriots quarterback said that new (old) offensive assistant Josh McDaniels, who was hired over the weekend and began work immediately, "obviously has some inside information" on New England's opponent Saturday, the Denver Broncos.
On the surface, they're hardly inflammatory comments … except that some segments of the media have already questioned the hire for the very reasons Brady mentioned. The Denver Post's Mike Klis writes Tuesday that "Once again, Belichick has found a loophole in the rulebook by hiring McDaniels as an offensive assistant coach the week before the Patriots play McDaniels' former team. And the NFL has plugged its ears and covered its eyes to a move that would seem to at least violate the spirit of fair competition."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello explained the move thusly: "Teams in the playoffs can sign players."
Klis' response: "Yes, but playoff teams can't sign players from other teams. And a case can be made that in regard to the 2011 season, McDaniels' job should be finished."
And that leads us back to Brady's remarks:
“He obviously has some inside information on that team and those players, as he coached them. I haven’t seen Josh yet, so I really don’t know,” Brady said. “I think coach [Bill] Belichick has a pretty good idea of what he’s going to want Josh to do. I talked to Josh briefly but I really haven’t had a chance to sit down with him. He’s a great coach and we’re lucky to have him. I’m excited to get back to work with him. How that plays into this week, we’ll see. We’ll try to figure that out here in the next five or six days.”
But here's the thing: McDaniels got fired midway through the 2010 season for being pretty bad at his job. In '09, the Broncos started 6-0 before finishing 8-8. The next season, they went 4-12. And while Tebow was drafted on McDaniels' watch, the Broncos were still a season away from running the read option under John Fox.
Not only that, but the Patriots have already played -- and soundly beaten -- the Broncos this season without McDaniels' assistance. So whatever knowledge, inside or otherwise, McDaniels might possess, we can't imagine it will much affect the Pats' game plan.
The Post's Woody Paige feels differently.
"Belichick brought in Kid McCoach as an 'offensive assistant' just in time to interrogate him before the Patriots' rematch with the Broncos and 32 of McDaniels' players and nine assistant coaches from last season's team. The Broncos fired McDaniels on Dec. 6, 2010, because of failure as a coach (17 losses in McD's last 22 games), his poor player-people-press skills and, ultimately, the videotaping scandal that undid the franchise. …
"[McDaniels] can provide inside information and tendencies of players and coaches, especially the offensive coordinator he worked closely with, Mike McCoy. Some aspects of his old playbook passing offense were retained."
Yes, because the Patriots looked lost against the Pats in the Week 15 matchup they won 41-23. Tom Brady threw for 320 yards, tossed two touchdowns and ran for another. Tebow, meanwhile, was 11 of 22 for 194 yards with two rushing touchdowns and a lost fumble. We're quite certain that whatever insights McDaniels might have, occurred to Belichick and his coaching staff when they were preparing for the Broncos the first time.
Put differently: if McDaniels is so smart, he'd still be a head coach. Or at the very least, something more than the offensive coordinator for the league's worst unit.
Either way, Brady isn't so much concerned with what McDaniels may or may not know as he is with Denver's defense.
"Look, I’m thinking about Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil and Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey," he said. "They’ve got plenty of good players on defense for me to worry about. Just like last time, coach talks about doing your job. And there’s no better coaching point this week than for everyone to do their job, not only on the field but off the field, taking care of what you need to take care of so we can be at our best for the most important game of our season."
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.