I've tried to stay out of the whole Gary Myers tweetfest regarding Tom Brady's departure from the Patriots because I have a lot of respect for Myers, he didn't just invent his tweets — someone is airing Brady's grievances (I have my suspicions), and when someone of Brady's stature departs a team after 20 years, there are going to be constant reports popping up about how this or that led to it.
That's really why I've largely steered clear of this — we're going to get 12 different reports like this until football returns. The reality is about 25 different things combined to Brady's departure. And every time someone who hasn't been around the Patriots for the past few years hears something new and different from a source — those with sources in One Patriot Place know Josh McDaniels and Brady saw their working relationship diminish slightly the past two years as Brady slowly distanced himself from the franchise — it's made out like it's huge news nationally, especially during the news void created by the pandemic.
To recap, here are Gary's string of tweets:
Do I think someone told Myers that Brady was tiring of McDaniels and Brady's lack of being a focal point as part of a general conversation about Brady's departure? Yes. But this is also missing a lot — sorry, missing all — of Brady's part in this (something we'll get into this weekend).
But one thing I did want to clear up, because it's just factually incorrect, is any suggestion that Brady lacked input into the team's gameplans.
That's just wrong.
Why? Because the quarterback is heavily involved in the game planning process in New England. Maybe Brady didn't like how the game was called — which goes more to Bill Belichick's approach on a defense-first 2019 team with limited passing targets in an effort to win that one game — but he had a heavy hand in each and every gameplan.
Let me explain the process, which I learned firsthand when I was embedded with the Texans in 2015. The process used by Bill O'Brien and (then) offensive coordinator George Godsey was the same exact employed in New England — because that's where both of them learned it, under McDaniels before he left for Denver and in his return to the Patriots.
“I don’t think there's ever a bad gameplan,” then-Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer (now back on the Patriots) told me at the time in unpublished comments. “It's a tough league, so what it really comes down to is execution against other great players. We're not trying to (screw) up. They're not trying to (screw) up. You know what I mean? No one's trying to do poorly. It's just a tough game.
"There are times when the play is going to work, and there are times where it's just not going to work. I really don't think you go into a game thinking, ‘Man, this gameplan sucks,’ because it is a collaboration. We're talking about it all week. You're just hoping you get the plays at the right time against the right defense."
Every Patriots game planning process starts like this: A completely blank sheet of paper that will contain the playcalls for that week's game.
The play sheet, usually front and back, is divided into multiple sections, like: drive starters, playaction, boot sprints, quick dropbacks, empty formation, 2nd and short, 2nd and long, third and short, goal line, four minute, two minute, etc.).
Then it is filled by either pulling a playcall from the season-long install, relying on another coach’s input, or creating a new play out of thin air for that opponent.
“Really it’s about saying, ‘How are we in a good position to have some carryover from the previous week without having to reinvent the freaking wheel every week?” Godsey said at the time.
After the book is closed on the previous game, both the coaches and the quarterbacks are watching the upcoming opponent and looking at ways to attack them in the different play categories. This is when the quarterback is heavily involved through phone calls, text messages, FaceTime ... every avenue of communication that's available these days.
This is how Godsey interacted with Hoyer nearly five years ago, while Hoyer was in another state getting cleared for a concussion — forget about Brady possibly being in the same building or town:
While looking at these plays, Godsey’s phone dings with a text message. It’s from Hoyer, who is in Pittsburgh getting his final clearance from his concussion. One thing to keep in mind that there are a ton of text messages sent during the gameplan process, from coach to coach, and coach to player. If only Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr had that technology…
“Hey, parachute this week?” Hoyer texted in reference to a curl concept against zone defenses.
“Ok,” Godsey replied, along with a picture of what he had in his callsheet at that point. “Which three do you like out of these empty plays?”
“Everything except café paint,” Hoyer responded.
“If we go to Detroit (personnel grouping with two tight ends), let's do these two plays,” texted Godsey.
“Yup, both are good,” Hoyer responded.
“Zero tilt over zing, quick 62 F slam bow crisscross?” Godsey asked.
At that point, Hoyer was back at his hotel and the two chatted further. Another text later had to do with the parachute play and if the Texans wanted to have an alert (alternate play depending on coverage; half the plays have an alert, which is basically having two plays at the line of scrimmage) if it’s man coverage.
More than a few emojis are used, complete with Hoyer throwing out the cash sign to Godsey, an acknowledgment that Hoyer wants their cash pass concept included.
Ah, gameplanning in the 21st century.
This goes on every single week for every single opponent. The process is the same.
There has never been a week when Brady was the quarterback — and will likely never be with any Patriots QB — where McDaniels and the coaches just drew up the gameplan without input from the QB and shoved it in their face.
This process also continues once the team hits the practice field for the rest of the week. The offense runs plays for a different part of the gameplan each day. If they don't look good on the field, or the quarterback isn't comfortable with it, the play can be altered or tossed out of the gameplan. There are also opportunities for plays to be taken out of the gameplan as late as Saturday night before a game — it can go into Sunday for night games.
Once the game starts, the game is now in the hands of the playcaller — who often works at the direction of Belichick, who is managing the entire game (he might want two runs on third and 7 at the opposing 40 to set up field position, for example).
"Things can change during the course of the game," McDaniels said during the bye week before the Falcons Super Bowl in 2017. "Maybe you didn’t plan on doing something a whole lot then all of a sudden it’s either working or not working and then you have to shift gears and make adjustments. These are the best teams that are left in our league and they’re all very well-coached, they all have great players and schemes and challenges that they present and one thing is not going to work forever. They make adjustments quick and they challenge you to make adjustments back. I think that all goes into those decisions about how to play the game and how to implement your game plan and how to try to help your players be successful."