Mac Jones and the Patriots offense have faced five unique challenges to start the season, but the Dallas Cowboys defense might be their most daunting test yet. Overall, the Cowboys defense ranks sixth in DVOA (7th vs. pass/8th vs. run) and 14th in points, a collection of impressive totals considering they've faced some of the best offenses in the NFL including Tom Brady and the Bucs and the Chargers.
Most concerning is their league-leading 10 interceptions, with Jones' former Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs leading the league with six interceptions.
"He's a great player, and I got a chance to practice against him a lot at Alabama, and he has a really good feel for the game," said Jones of Diggs. "He's very instinctual, very smart, fast, quick, explosive, strong, so he does it all really well. I'm really proud of how he's been playing, and it's going to be fun to get a chance to be on the field with him again."
While Jones admitted he'd have to be aware of where Diggs was at all times, he can't second-guess throwing in the talented cornerback's direction.
"He's all over the tape," continued Jones. "He's sideline to sideline making plays, playing his technique, and you have to be aware of where he is at all times. He makes plays. It's not just him, too. There are other guys on the team that are also making plays, and they all play hard, and they play together. It's a really good all-around defense. They play together as a team, and we've got to be ready to go. Obviously, you can't be afraid of anyone."
But Diggs is just one of many problems that the Cowboys present, including rookie linebacker Micah Parsons who already has 10 quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks. For a Patriots offense that is starting to discover their identity, this is a golden opportunity to take on one of the NFL's best teams.
Of course, Jones will be a key ingredient if the Patriots are to get their first homefield win of the season and he continues to break down his own game and strive for improvement.
"I'd say just sticking to my reads and following what they're telling me to do," said Jones of how he can avoid mistakes like his interception against Houston. "It's not that I don't know what to do. It's just, sometimes, I might skip something or see something. I just need to stick to what I've been taught and do it and just play.
"At the end of the day, you can't go out there and have sticky fingers. You've got to kind of react and play how you know how to play. Sometimes I might see something that some people don't see, but at the same time, when we watch the film, we always get back on the same page, and I've just got to do a better job of that and realizing that they don't have to touch the ball. You can do other things, throw the ball away, whatever, just to make sure that doesn't happen."
"Mac's a good player, he's a really good player in my opinion," said Jakobi Meyers. "He throws good balls, he's tough. There's a lot of things that you don't really get in a scouting report that he definitely brings to the table. Going out there competing with him every day, he makes me want to go hard because I know he's out there giving his all. Talent-wise, toughness, dependability... I think he has it all."