Josh McDaniels was at it again Sunday.
The Patriots were rolling, looking at a first down near midfield with less than 10 minutes to go until the half. After a four-yard run by Danny Woodhead (more on him later) brought the ball to the Baltimore 49-yard line, McDaniels decided a bizarre play was in order.
The snap went not to Brady but to Woodhead, who got the ball to Julian Edelman on a reverse. The only problem was that rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw saw the play all the way and blew it up for a 13-yard loss.
New England had to punt, and Baltimore went down the field on the next possession and scored to take a 14-13 lead.
After two similar plays that were met with similar results against the Cardinals, it's fair to say that McDaniels is trying to do too much at times. He tries to re-invent the game on plays, summed up in this tweet from the Boston Globe's Chad Finn.
McDaniels has Tom Brady as his quarterback again. He doesn't have to make this offense. It's already made. McDaniels only has to best utilize its assets, which is putting the ball in Brady's hands and setting his receivers up with routes that get them open.
The calls have been suspect, but the personnel choices have been as well. The decision to play Edelman over Wes Welker has been widely discussed, but the Patriots also showed an interest in running Woodhead, not Stevan Ridley, as the main back against the Ravens.
It was a curious decision, to say the least. Ridley has been one of the fastest-starting backs in the league this year and averages 4.5 yards per carry. His slashing style and mix of strength and speed makes him a dangerous presence in the backfield.
Woodhead, meanwhile, is a good third-down back but far too short and small to be the No. 1 option. And he's the one running up the gut against the Ravens?
The simpler, the better with this offense. It just needs the best players on the field and plays that get them the ball. No need to make it any harder than that.