FOXBOROUGH — Last Tuesday during his weekly video conference with the media, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels acknowledged even his wife sometimes criticizes certain play calls.
"The frustration, I understand it,” he said.
Well, following Sunday’s tough 35-29 overtime loss to the Cowboys, a few plays from the game might come up at the McDaniels household.
The one that stands out most came with 10:01 left in the third quarter and the Patriots leading 14-10. It was third-and-1 at the Dallas 49-yard line and McDaniels called a dive to Brandon Bolden. The play went for -1 yards and the Patriots were forced to punt.
While just one play, it illustrated a bigger picture problem for the Patriots with the team taking too much of a cautious approach with rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
It almost feels like the team is calling plays in an effort not to lose games instead of trying to win them.
With 1:30 left in the first half, the Patriots defense came up with a huge stand inside their 5-yard line, forcing a Dak Prescott fumble on fourth down resulting in a touchback.
Instead of trying to pick up at least a field goal and the potential for a double-score, the Patriots opted to run out the clock and go into the locker room up 14-10.
“We were getting the ball to start the second half,” Bill Belichick said after the game when asked about the decision.
Electing to just run out the clock and not try to get more points at the end of the half is an example of being defensive with decision-making and worrying about a potential mistake rather than being a little aggressive and going for points.
The same could be said at the end of the game against the Buccaneers.
Instead of going for it on fourth-and-3 with a minute left, the team asked Nick Folk to kick a 56-yard field goal in the rain. Even if the kick was made, Tom Brady would have had plenty of time to go down the field and re-take the lead.
This is another example of being overly cautious instead of being the aggressor.
Through six games Jones has taken care of the ball for the most part and made the right decisions. He’s shown he can be trusted to fully take the training wheels off, but the coaching staff doesn’t seem to be there just yet.
At 2-4, there will be a greater sense of urgency inside the Gillette Stadium facility and it should also carry over into the way Jones is handled during games.