The Arizona Cardinals are one of the most blitz-happy teams in the entire NFL. That’s not good news for Mac Jones and the New England Patriots.
The second-year quarterback has struggled when faced with pressure this season and it doesn’t help matters that the Patriots are dealing with injuries up front as both their starting tackles missed practice Thursday.
Jones has the fifth-lowest completion percentage in the league when pressured to go along with five interceptions and just one touchdown, according to the NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. And Jones should expect to have to call out blitzes and shift the offensive line with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph sending the Cardinals in on blitzes at the third-highest rate in the NFL, per Giardi.
Seeing how much the Cardinals like to get after the quarterback has certainly stood out to Jones in his preparation for the Monday night contest.
“I think Vance (Joseph) obviously does a great job,” Jones told reporters following practice Thursday, per team-provided transcript. “He’s always been that type of coach. He’s going to keep you guessing and put you on your heels. He’s going to show you one thing and bring something else and that’s how he’s always been.
“He’s had great success with it, and they obviously have the talent to be able to do that and it takes smart football players, which they have, and you see it on film. They bring a lot of different guys from a lot of different places. Just got to be locked in with our eyes and yeah, it’s a really good defense.”
Even though Joseph, who had some critical words for the way Patricia runs New England’s offense, tends to call blitzes a lot, it hasn’t exactly translated into the Cardinals recording a bunch of sacks. Arizona has the eighth-fewest sacks in the league and ranks 31st in points allowed per game.
The Cardinals defense has to be salivating though at the chance to knock Jones down and rattle him. New England hasn’t exactly kept the 24-year-old well-protected in the pocket recently with the Patriots surrendering 10 sacks in their past three games coming off their bye as part of their anemic offense.
Keeping Jones upright might just be the biggest key for the Patriots in getting out of Arizona with a win.