For the first time since 2011, Josh McDaniels won't have Tom Brady as his quarterback in 2020.
It certainly will be a lot different for the 44-year-old and a major topic with the Patriots this season will be how the offense looks without Brady under center. Given Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham competing for the starting job, it likely will feature more mobile concepts.
So, how is McDaniels looking at things and approaching his job?
"Try to get it the same mentality, but adapt it to the players that we have," he said via video conference Friday. "I’m thankful for the experiences that I’ve had when I didn’t have Tom. Believe me, no one was happier to have him out there when he was out there for all the years I was fortunate to coach him. But I would say I did have some experience with the Matt Cassel year, which I learned a lot about how to tailor something to somebody else’s strengths, we had to play that four-game stretch a handful of years ago with Jacoby (Brissett) and Jimmy (Garoppolo), I thought that was helpful. And I was away for three years. So trying to really adapt … it’s not changing your system, it’s adapting your system to the talents and strengths of your players.
"So, again, you just have to keep telling yourself, ‘Do I really want us to be good at this? Or are we good at this?' There’s things … there’s a fine line between really pushing hard to keep working at something that you’re just not showing much progress in vs. ‘Hey, you know what, we’re a lot better at A, B and C then we are D, E and F, why don’t we just do more A, B and C?' I think as a staff we’ve really had a lot of conversations about those kinds of things.
"Again, we can’t make any declarations about what we’re good at yet because we haven’t practiced. I think everybody’s chomping at the bit, eager to get out there and start to make a few decisions about some things that we want to try to get good at, and if we’re just not making a lot of progress then we just have to shift gears and go in a different direction.
"But I’m going to lean on my experience and then I’m going to lean on the staff, Coach (Bill) Belichick, just to, you know, ‘Let’s be real with ourselves,’ you know what I mean? 'Yeah, we used to be good at that. We’re not doing so hot at it so let’s just scrap it for now and move in a different direction.' We’ve tried to change like that. Even though we had the same QB for many years, our system wasn’t always the same. Some years it was 12 personnel, some year it was regular personnel with a fullback, other years we were no-huddle. So we’ve tried to do that with our system and our players in the past. I’d say the same thing is going to apply this year."
Having more mobility at the quarterback position could open some new things up, which McDaniels equated to having a different skill set from a previous year at wide receiver.
"It’s certainly not something I’m accustomed to using a great deal but you use whatever the strengths of your players that are on the field allow you to use, to try to move the ball and score points," he said. "So whatever that means relative to mobility at the QB position, size and power, quickness, length, height with receivers -- you go through the same thing many different times. I remember when you get a new receiver group -- our receivers have changed quite a bit in terms of some of them were bigger. Randy Moss was a bigger guy and then we’ve had some smaller guys like Wes Welker and Danny Amendola, and then you have tight ends that are more fast straight-line players and then you have guys like Gronk and those kinds of players.
"Regardless of what the position is, I think you try to use their strengths to allow them to make good plays and if that’s something we can figure out how to do well and get comfortable doing and feel like we can move the ball and be productive then we’re going to work as a staff to figure out how that works best, and try to utilize it if we can."
Newton and Stidham will use the next few weeks to compete for the starting job Sept. 13 against the Dolphins.