Patriots quarterback Mac Jones met with the media on Thursday as the team kicked off their week of on-field preparations for the Arizona Cardinals. After an extended break, Mac and the Pats hope their upcoming two-game road trip can get the team back on track after dropping two-straight contests.
"At the end of the day we are where we are," said Mac from the podium on Thursday afternoon. "It's kind of a new season here and it starts with this one against the Cardinals and that's what we're going to focus on. We're in a good spot, we just have to go out there and compete and win. That's what it's all about, whatever we've got to do to figure out how to win, practice that way, prepare that way and then obviously play that way."
Though Arizona's defense ranks near the bottom of the league by most metrics, 31st in scoring defense, 28th on third down, and last in the red zone, they are also one of the most blitz-happy teams in the NFL, entering the game with the third-highest blitz rate in the league. Combine that with Jones' 5th-lowest completion rate against pressure (43.8 percent) with a single touchdown to five interceptions and it seems like a vital area where the Monday night game could be decided.
"I think [defensive coordinator] Vance [Joseph] obviously does a great job, he's always been that type of coach he's going to keep you guessing and put you on your heels," said Mac. "He's going to show you one thing and bring something else. That's how he's always been and he's had great success with it and obviously, they have the talent to be able to do that. 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. It's a really good defense."
Behind an offensive line that continues to see players exit and enter the lineup due to injury and illness, Mac and whichever protectors are able to go will look to burn Arizona for sending extra rushers. Conor McDermott was the only healthy tackle at practice on Thursday, with Yodny Cajuste limited with both calf and back ailments, while both starters Trent Brown (illness) and Isaiah Wynn (foot) were absent.
Attrition along the offensive line could significantly complicate the game plan, especially against a defense like this.
"Every week's different, some teams don't blitz at all, [but] this team is top of the league in blitzing," said Mac. "It's something they do really well and like I said, they keep you guessing. You just gotta go through your reads and take it, whatever they give you you take it. They give you the deep, you take it, they give you short, take it. No different than any other week. They do spin the dial a lot and keep you guessing. They've done it really well this year."