Success of Patriots QBs Cam Newton, Mac Jones reflects well on Josh McDaniels

FOXBOROUGH (Mass.) Notes and thoughts about the New England Patriots, NFL.
1. McDaniels factor. There was an interesting "what could've been" moment after last week's Patriots-Eagles practice. Howie Roseman, executive vice president and general manger of Philadelphia, and Josh McDaniels, New England offensive coordinator were discussing.

Before this offseason, Roseman was searching for Doug Pederson's replacement to the Eagles coach position. They had never met before. McDaniels was selected as a finalist. If Roseman had offered McDaniels the job, he would have been in the first stages of his second stint, fulfilling what is still a career goal.

McDaniels, however, returned to the Patriots for his 18th season and his 10th consecutive year as coordinator. This is his second stint after his time with both the Los Angeles Rams (2011) and the Denver Broncos (2010). The current NFL offensive coordinator has not been in the same role with the same team for a longer time.

It is a sign of hope that quarterbacks Cam Newton (8-9, 103 yards and one touchdown) and Mac Jones (11-39, 146 yards), can perform as well as they did on Thursday, even though it was against Eagles' second-unit defenders.

After practice, Josh McDaniels meets up with Howie Roseman of the Eagles. After McDaniels' offseason interview to become Philadelphia's head coach, McDaniels and Roseman are already familiar. Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 16, 2021

It also serves as a reminder about McDaniels' role as O-coordinator/quarterbacks coach -- nobody works more closely with Jones and Newton -- and how important it was to the Eagles that they declined to hire him.

"No. 1. He's a great guy and he relates well with players but, in terms of him being a coach, one his greatest strengths is his ability teach," stated Matt Cassel, a long-time NFL quarterback. Cassel credits his time with McDaniels (2005-08), for helping to lay the foundation for his 14-year-long career. There are some guys who can just go through a play and not be able to explain it or teach it. They don't understand how the ball works. Or why you are doing this check.

He tells you what to expect from the [quarterback] room. Every day, he brings something new and innovative to keep your mind active, to keep it learning. He challenges you. You grow as a player by doing this."

This dynamic appealed to Eagles who hope to see Jalen Hurts, second-year quarterback, grow into their franchise quarterback.

"My second year was my rookie year. I spent a lot of time with Josh," Cassel, who is a top-rated analyst on NBC Sports Boston. He would create drills that were unique and unlike anything I've seen. He would have me call plays in a 2-minute situation. He'd ask me to call plays down the field, and I'd reply, "We have a second-and-6. What do you like? We would work down the field and he'd say, 'We have a second-and-6, what do you like here?' It was... It forces you to think about the situational, how you call certain plays, your favorite plays and allows you to tell him what you like.

Josh McDaniels (center) is back as Patriots' offensive coordinator for the 10th consecutive season. AP Photo/Steven Senne

2. Uche update: Josh Uche, a promising second-year outside linebacker, left Thursday's match after six plays. It's not clear what caused him to be sidelined, but I understand it doesn't have long-term consequences.

3a. Late return: Coach Bill Belichick said to reporters that the Patriots had just returned from Philadelphia a few hours earlier. The normal return trip from Philadelphia was much faster, so the team arrived at sunrise.

3b. Plane to Haiti: Robert Kraft and Jonathan Kraft made a great gesture to load the plane with supplies for Haiti's earthquake victims. It took off Saturday morning from Boston's Logan Airport. Three doctors, two surgeons, and a nurse were also onboard. It serves as a reminder that the Patriots logo is more than football.

4. Cam down the field. Newton was dialed into Thursday by Patriots radio analyst Scott Zolak. Zolak said that it was as good as he had looked as a Patriot with his Week 2 performance last season against the Seattle Seahawks (30-of-44, 397 yards and one TD, zero INTs). This is a strong link, considering Newton completed three passes with at least 10 yards of air on a first-quarter drive. He did this twice against Seattle. Cam still has the ability to let loose.

5. Sirianni on Mac 10 overall. Sirianni stated that Jones's accuracy and determination in deciding where the ball should go stood out. Sirianni said, "When you watch DeVonta’s highlights, it is easy to be like, ‘Whoa, that man can make some great throws.’" Sirianni then watched Jones on Thursday.

6. Problem with the first-class running back: This is a problem when there are too many talent at one position. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stephenson make up a solid foursome. J.J. Taylor's explosive spin move Thursday and his playmaking abilities make him worthy to be on the roster, along with core special-teamer Brandon Bolden. It is hard to see the Patriots keeping six players, while five would be too much. Running back-needy teams might be an option. After the game, Belichick observed that competition is bringing out the best of everyone and it's a "great situation."

7. Field trip to NFL Films. Belichick enjoyed expounding on the Patriots' trip to NFL Films, Mount Laurel (New Jersey), last week. The schedule was a good fit for a team visit, with the Patriots practicing in Philadelphia and Mount Laurel located about 20 miles from their hotel.

"It was an amazing trip for us all," Belichick said to 98.5 The Sports Hub. "NFL Films does an amazing job of capturing every aspect of football, including the highlights, drama, humor, emotion, and sometimes even the humor. We were all pleasantly surprised to see how the film crew works behind the scenes. It's a huge operation and done at such an impressive level. It's a huge operation, and it's done at such a high level. It gave us a better understanding of how NFL Films has helped to increase the popularity of football."

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8. Barmore at the microphone: Christian Barmore, a rookie defensive tackle, was drafted in the second round in 2021. This was partly due to his lack of playing experience and maturity. He had posted on social media that he wanted to leave Alabama in 2020. However, he did show a level respect that caught my eye in Philadelphia. It was not a typical setup for interviews after practice so a Patriots staff member had to uncomfortably crouch down in front of Barmore and hold a microphone. Barmore, 22 years old, asked if he could hold the microphone instead.

9. Giant week ahead: On Wednesday and Thursday, the Patriots will welcome the New York Giants into town for practices (open to the public), and Sunday, the teams will play their preseason finale at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford. Why are there practices in Foxborough, when the game is away? Joe Judge, Giants coach, previously stated that part of the reason was due to the three-game preseason schedule change. Instead of having four games, the organizations decided to "exchange some year by year" to give fans the chance to see another opponent during the preseason. The Giants will host one preseason match next year and the Patriots will be their 2022 preseason finale. Both teams plan to practice together in East Rutherford.

10. Did you know: The 17-play, 91 yard touchdown drive Jones led on Thursday's first series would have been the Patriots longest touchdown drive since Week 3, 2015, when they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 51-17. The common thread in both 17-play drives was the way they ended: LeGarrette Blount scored with a 1-yard touchdown run against Jacksonville and Stevenson, a player who has been compared to Blount, did the same.


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