Some Patriots news and notes on this Thursday:
Saleh Credits Cowboys For Wearing Jets Defense Out
Heading into Sunday’s game against the Jets, the Patriots are facing a talented defense that’s been widely considered among the best in the league. While the results on Sunday didn’t necessarily represent that after New York fell 30-10 in Dallas, there was one significant factor that provided some context to the loss.
The best way to beat a good defense is to wear it out, and that’s exactly what the Cowboys did.
They forced three interceptions by Zach Wilson and went on to hold the ball for a staggering 42:15 compared to the Jets’ 17:45.
As good as any defense is, no one can withstand being out on the field that long. And certainly not against players like Dak Prescott and Dallas’ offense.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh said that the fact the Cowboys kept moving the chains absolutely killed them. He called each conversion over the course of each of their long drives a “body blow,” which eventually ended up being the difference in the game.
“From an efficiency standpoint, on third down, we just couldn’t get off the field,” said Saleh on Wednesday after the Cowboys finished Sunday converting 9-of-18 on third down against them. “Just to give context to it all, when you can’t get off the field and you see almost 50 plays in a half, which is almost a game, you’re going to get tired. Your technique is going to lack. You’re fighting for your life at that point.”
“It’s like body blows. They sting, and the longer these drives go – I think we had over 5 drives that lasted 12 plays or more, and that’s a lot of credit to them, being able to stay ahead of the chains and being able to convert those third downs.”
“They kept body-blowing, and they did a really good job with it.”
That’s an area the Patriots will likely have to try and exploit this weekend. In their second meeting last season, the Patriots did a good job of making the Jets defense work and wearing them down, running nearly 60 plays in that one. They held the football for nearly 36 minutes while Mac Jones completed 23-of-27 for 246 yards, but they just couldn’t convert in the red zone, going 0-for-2 in that area, while Nick Folk also missed two field goals that afternoon.
In the end, Marcus Jones ended up with his 84-yard touchdown return to seal the win, but keeping the ball out of their hands, along with holding Zach Wilson to just 9-of-22 throwing the football, was key in the victory.
They had similar success in the first meeting, keeping the football for nearly the same amount of time after running 75 plays, as Jones finished 24-of-35 and threw a touchdown pass, while Folk hit five field goals.
But sustaining drives and execution will likely be even more important this weekend. Saleh knows it, admitting Dallas’ efficiency as being the difference during Sunday’s loss.
“It’s one game guys, and I don’t think it really defines who we are as a defense or who we are as a team,” said Saleh. “But it definitely was a really good job from their standpoint. Give credit to Dallas. [They were] just so efficient in everything they did. They took advantage of … if we were off a step, they took advantage of it, and that’s a credit to them and their execution.”
While the Patriots have already had success in that area, the key question is now going to be whether or not they can both pull it off yet again, as well as fix their own problems putting points up on the board in front of what should be a hostile crowd at MetLife Stadium.
Marcus Jones’ Status in Doubt
Patriots defensive back Marcus Jones missed Wednesday’s session with a shoulder injury, which was one he suffered early during the Dolphins games Sunday night.
The one positive was the fact that Jonathan Jones (ankle) was back but was among players limited. However, if he’s able to go that will certainly give a lift to a secondary that was extremely thin.
Sunday night saw Myles Bryant see a surprising amount of playing time, with Bryant playing 84% of the snaps in the loss. He was up and down for most of the evening, making one good play while later giving up another, and it certainly made things a little difficult on them at times. Having Jones back, if he’s able to handle the workload, should help with that.
Meanwhile, Christian Barmore (knee) was also reportedly limited, which will be something to monitor. The Jets do have a pretty good ground game, and the key in this one will likely be putting that in check and then forcing a mistake by Wilson, so Barmore’s presence Sunday would absolutely make a difference there.
On the offensive side of the football, Trent Brown (concussion), Mike Onwenu (ankle), Sidy Sow (concussion), and Cole Strange (knee) were all limited, which continues to tell the story of what’s been a banged-up offensive line in front of Mac Jones. Both Onwenu and Strange played on Sunday, albeit Onwenu ultimately didn’t last the whole game. But that inconsistency as a whole has kept them from putting any type of continuity together there, and the results have certainly not been great so far.
Also limited as DeVante Parker (knee), who has also been inconsistent. He had a play Sunday night where he was boxed out by Dolphins defensive back Xavien Howard, who got inside of him and forced him out of bounds, with Howard ultimately winning that battle after he eventually picked off a deep pass on a 50/50 ball to Parker. That one was frustrating because it happened coming off the blocked field goal and if the Patriots could have punched it in, it would have allowed New England to pull within 17-10 with a full quarter left to play.
While the blame can also be placed on what was not the best throw by Mac Jones, it was a significant squandered opportunity after New England had worked its way down to the Miami 22-yard line. While the Patriots did eventually close the gap and pull within that margin, that sequence cost them nearly four minutes of time wasted, which, by the end of the night, certainly would have come in handy.
Jones “Done Talking About Last Year”
Mac Jones spoke to reporters on Wednesday and one thing he emphasized was the fact he’s focused on having a short memory, while also trying to focus on improving himself.
With the Patriots now heading into Week 3, the third-year quarterback has been asked about the 2022 season for much of both the offseason and the preseason, and Jones is ready to turn the page as he’s got more important business ahead of him in the coming months.
“I think every year’s a new year. I’m definitely done talking about last year, and just looking forward to trying to improve,” said Jones. “Done with the first two weeks, just trying to focus on what I can do each play – what’s my job? Who is the ball supposed to go to? – and focus on that.”
Coming off of two weeks where he’s off to his best start statistically in his third season, the area they’ve been struggling with has been making early mistakes that have put them in a deep hole that’s been too deep to come back from. This past week started after they came out early and marched down the field on their second drive of the game, with rookie wideout Demario Douglas losing the football on a 3rd-and-8 after he had picked up 10-yards, which was recovered by the Dolphins.
It was a brutal turnover, and one that drew the ire of head coach Bill Belichick. Douglas headed to the sidelines, and it would be his last offensive snap of the night. He finished with just six snaps, after having played 33 snaps (41%) the week before against Philadelphia.
That certainly can’t happen this weekend. While Jones has won each of his starts as a pro against New York, it doesn’t change the fact that none of the previous meetings mean anything. He acknowledged on Wednesday that he’ll have to be at his best and that everybody’s got to be on the same page in order to get a win. He added that he plans on making sure they do what they need to in order to hopefully come away with the victory.
“Obviously, I’ve had a chance to play against this defense a lot, but they’ve done a great job,” said Jones. “They affect the quarterback. They push the pocket. They’re relentless. They run to the ball. They do everything right. So, it’s a big challenge.”
“For me, like I said, I’m going to focus on each play, regardless of the situation. I’m going to go out there and execute my job, and hopefully bring everybody with me.”
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