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New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 12: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Last week, the Dolphins gave the Patriots trouble in compartmentalized ways. On one side of the ball, New England struggled with a young receiver out of the slot in Jaylen Waddle. On the other side of the ball, Miami was able to pressure rookie quarterback Mac Jones, hitting him nine times.

A common theme from Patriots coaches and player leading into their Week 2 matchup against the Jets has been correcting the mistakes they made in the opener. Luckily for them, New York will throw some similar tests at them on Sunday. Who needs to step up for things to go better this time around? Lets take a closer look in this week’s key matchups…

  • When New England has the ball: David Andrews vs. Quinnen Williams

    The Patriots offensive line has been critical of how they protected rookie quarterback Mac Jones in the season opener. “We gotta do a little bet job protecting him at times,” center and team captain David Andrews said on Wednesday. In my opinion, I think he took too many hits.”

    While the Dolphins brought most of their pressure last week from the edge, the strength of the Jets’ defensive line is in the middle. 2019 third-overall pick Quinnen Williams recorded two quarterback hits last week, and is coming off a season where he had seven sacks in just 13 games.

    It will be up to the Patriots’ interior offensive linemen – mainly Andrews – to make sure Williams isn’t in the backfield as often in Week 2. In his lone career game against the Patriots so far, Williams recorded just two tackles and did not get to the quarterback.

  • When New York has the ball: Jonathan Jones vs. Elijah Moore

    Elijah Moore isn’t quite as explosive as Waddle, but he can make the Patriots pay if they make a mistake in coverage. Although he was statistically limited in his debut (one catch on four targets for -3 yards), he flashed some big-play ability, as seen on a 22-year connection that was nullified by a formational penalty on the offensive line.

    Jonathan Jones had his issues with Waddle last week, as did just about any corner the Patriots used in the slot. In his first NFL game, the Alabama product was able to catch four passes on five targets for 61 yards and a touchdown. He won both on his routes and after the catch.

    When the Patriots were able to force Miami into third down situations last week they were able to get off the field at a solid rate – the Dolphins converted just four of 11 third downs. The Jets will throw the ball deep plenty, but knowing they can pick up yards underneath will allow them to be more aggressive. If Jonathan Jones and the Patriots can take those underneath throws away, they’ll be able to make Zach Wilson and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur uncomfortable.

  • Bonus: Bill Belichick vs. Zach Wilson

    We spent a good portion of last week prognosticating what kind of horrors Brian Flores would have in store for rookie quarterback Mac Jones. After all, Flores learned from the master of torturing first-year signal callers – Bill Belichick is 21-6 against rookie quarterbacks in his time with the Patriots.

    In Week 2, it’s Belichick’s turn to have some fun. What will he dial up to put Zach Wilson in a blender and have him ‘seeing ghosts‘ like his predecessor did in 2019?

    Expect to see the Patriots moving around pre-snap on defense. It may not be the full ‘amoeba’ look, but something similar in the secondary. In terms of play calling, there will likely be more blitzes and coverage rotations. It will be a big game for the Patriots’ defensive veterans, such as Devin McCourty and Dont’a Hightower, who are comfortable in the system and can use their knowledge to be creative.

    After that, it will be a matter of seeing how Wilson handles everything. Last week against Carolina, he completed just 54 percent of his passes, threw an interception, and was strip sacked. That was with Carolina sending just 14 blitzes, a number that should be much higher this week.