After escaping East Rutherford with an in depth win over the Jets on Sunday afternoon, the street isn’t going to get any simpler for the 1-2 Patriots.
New England should now head again on the street to tackle the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday in a Week 4 showdown. Dallas boasts one of the balanced rosters within the league, and is trying to proper the ship after a stunning loss to the lowly Cardinals in Week 3.
Listed here are 4 matchups to look at if the Patriots count on to go away Texas with a .500 document.
Micah Parsons vs. the Patriots’ O-line
Invoice Belichick desires to get one factor straight.
Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons is just not Lawrence Taylor.
“I’d simply say that I wouldn’t put anyone forward of Lawrence Taylor – interval,” Belichick famous on Wednesday. “I noticed that man daily for over a decade. He tilted the sector for a decade. So till any individual does that – and there’s a whole lot of nice gamers which have been on this league and I’m not taking something away from anybody else and there are a whole lot of nice gamers which might be at present on this league – however I’m personally not placing anyone forward of Lawrence Taylor. Not but.”
He will not be L.T., however Parsons has already established himself as arguably probably the most disruptive defensive participant within the league since arriving within the NFL in 2021.
In simply three video games, Parsons has recorded 4 sacks and an unbelievable 20 quarterback pressures. And given the state of New England’s O-line, the Cowboys star move rusher might be licking his chops.
Regardless that Mac Jones was not sacked in Week 3 towards the Jets, he was still facing pressure in more than a third of his dropbacks. New England’s inside O-line wants a stronger displaying past David Andrews, though Cole Unusual is perhaps restricted towards Dallas as a consequence of his lingering knee challenge.
Trent Brown is perhaps a very powerful participant on the sector for New England on Sunday given his anticipated reps towards Parsons.
Towards New York, Brown showcased why he’s among the finest tackles within the recreation when he’s locked in. He allowed zero pressures towards the Jets in 30 pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus (PFF).
As noted by Chad Graff of The Athletic, Brown is at present the top-rated sort out by Professional Soccer Focus, permitting simply two pressures on 88 dropbacks.
Nonetheless, attempting to decelerate a one-man wrecking crew in Parsons may stand as Brown’s most daunting problem all season.
Christian Gonzalez vs. CeeDee Lamb
Gonzalez, the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month in September, has handed nearly each check thrown his manner as one among New England’s beginning boundary corners in 2023.
By means of his first three video games within the NFL ranks, Gonzalez has succeeded in slowing down (or downright neutralizing) prime wideouts in A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Garrett Wilson.
Regardless of New England’s 1-2 document, the Patriots’ protection has but to relinquish a 100-yard receiving recreation, even with the Assassin’s Row of proficient pass-catchers that they’ve battled.
Gonzalez (one interception, one sack, three move deflections, 16 tackles) has performed an important function in New England’s efforts of not getting beat by way of the air. In response to NFL’s NextGenStats, Gonzalez has solely allowed his opponents to get open in man protection 23.1 % of the time.
Week 4 will current one more troublesome matchup for Gonzalez, as he’ll probably get the lion’s share of snaps towards Cowboys wideout CeeDee Lamb in protection.
Lamb (19 catches, 273 yards) is likely one of the focal factors of the Cowboys’ offense, with the previous Oklahoma product torching the Patriots in his final assembly in Oct. 2021 (9 receptions, 149 yards, two touchdowns in a 35-29 Dallas win).
With each Marcus Jones and Jack Jones nonetheless on IR (and Jonathan Jones nonetheless working his manner again from an ankle damage), New England’s cornerback depth is skinny getting into Week 4.
Gonzalez have to be as much as the duty in the case of slowing down Lamb, given the dearth of reinforcements behind him.
Rhamondre Stevenson, Ezekiel Elliott vs. Cowboys’ run protection
The Patriots’ stagnant run recreation was one of many extra perplexing shortcomings on New England’s roster by way of the primary two weeks of the 2023 season.
A 1-2 punch of Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott was anticipated to be the point of interest of New England’s offensive personnel, however the staff entered Week 3 towards the Jets averaging simply 82 speeding yards per recreation — twenty seventh within the NFL.
Final Sunday was a step in the suitable path for New England, with New England gaining 157 yards on the bottom towards the Jets — headlined by a breakout efficiency from Elliott (80 yards on 16 makes an attempt).
Elliott, set to face the Cowboys for the primary time in his profession, will look to do some harm towards a Dallas protection that coughed up 222 yards on the bottom towards the Cardinals final week.
A repeat efficiency from Elliott will probably be welcomed, however New England wants Stevenson to claim himself because the staff’s lead again on Sunday. The 25 12 months previous was New England’s most dear offensive participant in 2022, recording 1,040 yards and 5 touchdowns on the bottom whereas additionally catching 69 passes on 88 targets for 421 yards and one other rating.
By means of three video games in 2023, Stevenson has but to showcase his trademark explosive skillset, averaging simply 2.9 yards per carry. Even with 59 yards towards the Jets, he solely averaged 3.1 yards per carry at MetLife Stadium.
Mac Jones vs. the deep ball
All issues thought of, Mac Jones has held his personal this season in the case of getting the ball out towards stress and finishing passes in short-yardage conditions.
However New England’s lack of big-play capabilities has routinely hindered this staff by way of three video games. The Patriots are at present useless final within the NFL in performs of 20-plus yards, with simply three on the 12 months.
It’s not essentially that Jones and the Patriots are shirking away from the deep ball both. Referencing NextGenStats, Patriots.com’s Evan Lazar noted that Jones leads the NFL with 16 move makes an attempt over 20+ air yards. Nonetheless, he ranks thirty second out of 33 qualifying quarterbacks in completion charge (2-for-16).
Extra snaps for Demario Douglas (17 in Week 3 vs. New York) may give Jones extra choices in the case of targets able to separating from defensive backs, particularly given JuJu Smith-Schuster’s struggles this season.
However Invoice O’Brien and the Patriots’ teaching workers may dial up some extra play-action in Week 4 in an effort to create extra big-play alternatives, as was the case on Pharaoh Brown’s 58-yard rating towards the Jets final weekend.
Regardless of their success with Brown in Week 3, the Patriots haven’t precisely embraced play-action thus far this season
Phil Perry of NBC Sports activities Boston famous on Thursday that the Patriots rank twenty ninth within the NFL in play-action charge (14.8 %), although Jones has a score of 132.3 on play-action passes this 12 months.
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