“Obviously, the scheme is very important as we move forward, but nothing is more important right now than being fundamentally sound at the receiver position.”
For quarterback Tom Brady, entering his 14th season, it’s a challenge late in his career to teach a bunch of players more than 10 years younger than he is.
It’s a challenge that Brady welcomes.
“We have a pretty smart group of guys, which is a positive. Hopefully, they will keep being smart,” he said with a chuckle.
And he doesn’t want to be too harsh with a young group under plenty of pressure already just to make the team.
“I don’t want to be the grumpy old guy (with the receivers), and I think there’s a need for patience,” Brady said, “but everyone must understand there’s some urgency.”
He can be more direct with last year’s wide receivers — Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Donte Stallworth, all 32 now, Deion Branch, 34, and Julian Edelman, 27, who could start the season on the physically unable to perform list.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski also could be on that list. And tight end Aaron Hernandez, arrested on a murder charge, and running back Danny Woodhead, who signed with the San Diego Chargers after catching 40 passes, won’t be back.
“There’s so many different things that happen each year,” McDaniels said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever coached one season where we didn’t have to deal with it, whether it was injuries or the loss of a player for a year. We lost Brady in 2008” to a knee injury.
But he’s hopeful the Patriots can adjust their offense to take advantage of their strengths.
“We’ve had years where our tight ends recently have been really a big part of our pass offense,” he said. “We’ve had years where our tight ends weren’t a focal point of the offense.