The McDaniels Offense: Preliminary Analysis


With all of this Draft Love/Hate going on lately, I figured that a new discussion might help us better understand the roster moves that have taken place, in addition to the roster moves to come by discussing the Josh McDaniels Offensive System.


“For any offense to be successful, they must be capable of consistently keeping the defense off balance and guessing.” –Bill Walsh, architecht of the West Coast Offense and 3-time Super Bowl Champion Coach


Judging by his track record, it is indisputable that McDaniels is one of the best in the business at confusing a defense. In contrast to many other offensive philosophies, McDaniels has repeatedly expressed his emphasis in interviews to not Stretch, but to “Stress” Defenses. This is a very important concept. So many offensive coaches really focus on an offenses ability to stretch a defense, vertically through the deep passing game, or horizontally, through short-yardage passing (Pat Shumur passing). McDaniels keeps defenses on their toes in a more intellectual sense – through complex play calling, random formations, and constantly doing the unexpected – while still stretching the field, both vertically and horizontally simultaneously. If a defense cannot rely on it’s commonly held principles, it simply cannot play the game it wants to.


Here is a video of the 2007 Patriots Offense. I don’t like watching the Patriots any more than you do, but it definitely shows what he is all about:


Things to Watch:

1)   Very Rarely is the same formation used twice. If the Same formation is used twice, the players are lined up in separate positions.

2)   McDaniels Loves to Use his Tight Ends! Not just as an offensive weapon, but as a mismatch weapon.  Notice that ever so often, he will line up Watson or Graham outside and put Welker or Stallworth inside against a LB or Safety. If the defense has Role Assignments where a Safety or an Linebacker is charged with covering the same Tight End the entire game, then he will move them outside once again and run short screens to Running Backs on a much less densely populated field. Kind of interesting.

3)   Every Single Play there are 5 receiving options for Brady!!!! That means a Safety or a Linebacker is covering someone. This means two things: Our offensive line MUST protect Bradford and Steven Jackson is certainly going to be used in the receiving game. I cant stress how different this is from Shumur’s offense last year, where often times Jackson and Bajema were both called in as additional blockers, leaving only 3 targets for Sam!

4)   Notice how spread out the field is on every play. This is a tribute to McDaniels Ability to stretch the field both vertically and horizontally simultaneously. This should help and accurate passer like Sam flourish in this offense.

5)   Brady holds the ball for 3 seconds or less. We will need Sam to really learn how to analyze the defense and pick his man effectively. I am not worried about this however, considering the significantly better coach McDaniels is than Shumur

6)   Keep an eye on how Stallworth, Welker, and Gaffney are used. I can very much see Amendola, Clayton, Pettis, Salas, and Avery (if healthy) emerging in this system. All of these players are too quick for a Safety or Outside Linebacker to cover effectively!

7)   Significantly more Shotgun plays! This is Bradford’s natural habitat. Should be interesting to see him take advantage of it

8)   It is hard to tell at times if players are running routes, or getting in position to block. Every play is very well designed


Food for Thought:

1)   As obvious from the video, no receiver on the Rams is the equivalent of Randy Moss. On the flipside, no running back on the Patriots is the equivalent of Steven Jackson. This will be interesting to see how McDaniels uses SJax in this offense. For those of you who think Jackson will play a diminished role, I would suggest otherwise. Considering the efforts of the 2007-2009 Patriot regime to acquire Jackson through trade, they obviously think very highly of this player!

2)   Intelligence!!!! This playbook is obviously extensive and considerably complicated. Our offensive players will need to thoroughly grasp this playbook if they intend on creating the confusion that McDaniels intends to! This explains the Pettis and Kendricks picks considering that they were 1st and 2nd team academically. I hope that during this pause in the lockout, McDaniels faxed some playbooks down to Houston where Bradford is holding practices. Additionally, I think that Gilyard’s time in St. Louis may be up for this reason.

3)   Watch the RedZone offense in this video…Then Watch an Austin Pettis Highlight Video…. Notice Any Similarities? Pettis fits this system inexplicably well!!!!

4)   Please do not misinterpret the following statement: Can Danario Alexander be the Randy Moss of this offense? I am not suggesting that Alexander is as talented as Moss. However, I think that this is a guy who can be a legitimate deep threat. At prototypical wide receiver size, Alexander has the chance to become the star of the show if he can stay healthy. This is coming from a person who thinks Alexander is the most overhyped, least healthy player on our roster. I may not be drinking the Alexander Kool Aid, but I see a huge opportunity for this kid!


This is just a general overview of the McDaniels offense as I, myself, am trying to figure it out.  I don’t think that there is any question that this system will bring significantly better results than Pat Shumur’s 10 yard Limit offense! While the Rams do not have the talent the Patriots did on offense, we certainly have an interesting enough group for McDaniels to work with. Bradford is every bit talented and intelligent enough to run this offense! If this post gets good reviews, I will post more once I learn more….



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