Did you know New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has never lost to the Dallas Cowboys in his career in Foxborough? In fact head coach Mike McCarthy has only beaten the Patriots once as a head coach.
The phrase “Trap Game” gets tossed around a lot. It applies to a team going up against a perceived inferior opponent and gets overlooked. There’s obvious reasons why the Patriots would fall under this guise.
Rookie QB, uneventful offensive production, and the lack of a G.O.A.T. in a 12 jersey. However, there’s still plenty they do well to be considered a threat.
Belichick is a defensive coach and that’s very much were they excel. The Patriots are currently 5th in total defense, humbling offenses like Tampa Bay to only 19 points.
Their pass defense has allowed only 206 yards/game, but that’s a little askew. They gave Brady fits, but allowed over 300 yards to Davis Mills, and had a great game against Zach Wilson who’s struggled all year.
Speaking of rookie quarterbacks, Mac Jones has arguably been the best in a sea of uninspiring rookie quarterback play so far.
Throwing for 1,243 yards 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, while impressively completing 71.1% of his passes. The 71.1% is also misleading as he’s primarily been a game-manager type quarterback so far.
Truthfully, New England wants to run the ball but doesn’t have a true lead dog in the backfield. Damien Harris has the most carries (63) but only averaged 46 yards a game. Brandon Bolden leads their running back group with 4.1 yards per attempt but has only 7 carries on the year.
New England wants a backfield to take pressure off Jones, but isn’t materializing. Not only are they about to go up against the Dallas Cowboys run defense, but they’re only allowing 79 yards per game.
Mac Jones will have to factor this game with an almost non-existent backfield.
According to NextGenStats, Jones has so far has only taken 32% of his passes 10 yards or more down the field. He’s been very safe with the ball. In fact, 72 of his 190 pass attempts (38%) have gone to 2 players: Jakobi Meyers and Hunter Henry.
I’ve said in the past that if you want your young quarterback to succeed, you need to have a reliable slot and tight end. Too often when they feel the pressure, they check it to their closest reads which are usually these players.
The Dallas Cowboys defense has been playing well enough to beat quarterbacks like Justin Herbert or Sam Darnold, and play Tom Brady down to the wire. Mac Jones doesn’t really compare to any of these players yet but shouldn’t be overlooked.
This is not only a litmus test game for the Cowboys, but a true adversity test for the Patriots. How do they compete with the majority of their offensive line having dealt with injuries?
Four of the Patriots’ top five offensive linemen — LT Isaiah Wynn (Covid list), LG Mike Onwenu (Covid list), RG Shaq Mason (abdomen) and RT Trent Brown (right calf) — are not spotted at the start of Friday’s practice. They haven’t practiced up to this point. Depth to be tested.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) October 8, 2021
Belichick knows how to scheme against opposing teams and their strengths. He has the defense to compete in this game, and an offense simple enough for Mac Jones to grow in.
These might not be the same old Patriots. The one’s lead by Tom Brady for 2 decades and wore enough rings to cover 60% of your hands. What they are is well coached and have plenty of players who can affect this game.
Players like Matt Judon and Josh Uche are among the league leaders in sacks and dangerous secondary with the likes of J.C. Jackson, Adrian Phillips and Devin McCourty lead this defense. This is not a defense to take lightly.
They’re not the sexiest team in the league but have an accurate QB, elite head coach and one of the best defenses in the league. These are reasons enough to not take them lightly.