Patriots playcalling reflects Patricia’s roots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who is preparing to face quarterback Mac Jones and the New England Patriots offense Monday night, said the unit’s defensively focused approach stands out.

Joseph praised the Patriots’ talent, noting that their style of play reflects playcaller Matt Patricia’s roots as a former defensive coordinator.

“I see an offensive that makes football work well. It’s a very conservative passing game – lots of screens, all kinds of screens. That’s what a defender would call offensive plays — ‘let’s not flip the ball, let’s get 4 yards a play, and let’s try to burn the clock,'” he said.

“They do and he will do that on Monday night. He will be patient. Maybe take a shot from time to time. But for the most part it’s a running game, it’s a fast-paced game, and it’s screens.”

That approach was at the root of Jones’ frustration, which boiled over on the sidelines in last Thursday’s 24-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Jones later explained that he called for less “fast play” and more deep throws on the field, adding that his tirade was not aimed at anyone and was intended to create a spark for the team.

The Patriots were undermanned along the offensive line, which may have contributed to the approach a week after Jones threw for a career-high 382 yards in a loss to the Vikings. But it was a battle on offense for much of the season, as the unit finished last in the NFL in red-zone efficiency, 25th on third down, 25th on sacks take-per-pass play and 28th in first downs overall.

Head coach Bill Belichick said earlier this week that it was “too difficult” to make dramatic changes on offense, adding, “If we can just do what we’re doing consistently, I think we’re going to be okay. “

Joseph said the Cardinals would focus on pushing Rhamondre Stevenson back on Monday, calling him a “special” player and adding, “The offense is definitely going through him.”

Despite the Patriots’ lower rankings in several key categories, Joseph — whose defense ranks last in the NFL in the red zone and 31st in points allowed — sees potential for their offense.

“It’s scary when you see the group because they have so much talent around Mac, and Mac is a good young quarterback. He can process information quickly, the ball is quickly out of his hands. He’s very, very smart,” he said.

“So they’re waiting for it to explode because they have so much talent on offense. But it was a run, a fast game and there were more screens. Hopefully they don’t change that much for us on Monday.”

Receiver Jakobi Meyers, who leads the team with 593 yards and is second with 50 catches, is officially on concussion log after suffering a hit to the head last Thursday. That puts his status for Monday’s game in question.

Josh Weinfuss, reporter for the ESPN Cardinals, contributed to this report. Patriots playcalling reflects Patricia’s roots

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