For Patriots fans who were decrying the team’s offensive effort last week against the Jets, brace yourself for the Saints’ numbers in Week 2 against the Panthers. After putting up 38 points in their opener, New Orleans took a major step backwards last week totaling just 128 total yards and a flat three yards per play in a 26-7 loss.
New England’s numbers weren’t exactly gaudy either with 260 total yards. Granted, some of that was due to multiple short fields set up by four Jets turnovers, but players and coaches alike have spoken about the lack of big plays this week.
“There’s definitely times when I watch the film and I wish I threw the ball down the field more,” rookie quarterback Mac Jones said on Wednesday. “You want to be able to test those areas of the field as we go forward, but I also want [Mac Jones] to make smart decisions, I want him to protect the football, and I want him to be aggressive when there are times to be aggressive,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels added.
At the same time, the Patriots coaching staff recognizes that the offense on the other side has the ability to hit big plays, and the Saints will be looking to jump start themselves after last week’s loss and dismal offensive performance.
“It’s really hard to predict what Sean [Payton] is going to do, and they have a huge playbook. They have a lot to choose from,” Belichick explained. “You can’t prepare for it all, and then you’ve got to be careful of the things that hurt you that they’ll come back and get you with. There’s also a lot of things the Saints do well that are hard to stop, and he has good compliments to all the plays, so if you stop one thing, he’s got something else to go to. It’s hard to stop both of them, so between all of what he has and exposing the defense’s weaknesses from week to week, that’s why they’ve led the league in offense for the last 15 years.”
With both teams likely hunting for big plays on Sunday, who are the players to keep an eye on? Let’s take a closer look in this week’s key matchups.