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Why Patriots' Jonathan Jones is 'key part' of containing Tyreek Hill

With the All-Pro receiver now suiting up for the Miami Dolphins, strategizing against Hill presents a new challenge.

Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31).
Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31).

The New England Patriots are well acquainted with Tyreek Hill, and historically, have managed to somewhat contain the wide receiver during his tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Now that he's joined a division rival, the Patriots are about to get to know him even better.

Hill took his talents to South Beach this offseason, signing a four-year, $120 million extension with the Dolphins that made him one of the highest-paid players in NFL history – save for a few quarterbacks. But in addition to trading for the All-Pro receiver, Miami also hired a new head coach and offensive coordinator in Mike McDaniel and Frank Smith, respectively.

That only adds to the unknown of what New England must prepare for this week.

"We'll see how they deploy him, how they use (Hill)," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday before the team's first practice at Palm Beach Atlantic University. "It might be different than Kansas City, might not. We'll see."

One thing not subject to change is Hill's speed, which Belichick acknowledged was a rare trait.

It's also the first attribute mentioned across the board when members of the New England defense are asked about Hill, who set Chiefs franchise records for single-season receptions (111 in 2021) and single-season receiving yards (1,479 in 2018).

Patriots corner Jalen Mills understands the task at hand.

"Us as a defense, we all have to know where he is at all times," Mills said Wednesday before practice. "Wherever they line him up, if he's motioning, three spot, two spot, one spot – regardless. We have to know where he is. He's a guy who can flip the field in an instant."

New England typically has done a good job in coverage against Hill in comparison to other teams. The question for many is whether the Patriots can sustain that with the departure of corners Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson in the last two seasons.

Devin McCourty, to that point, doesn't think cornerback Jonathan Jones has gotten the praise he deserves against Hill.

"I would say Jon Jones doesn't get a lot of credit on our team over the last few years with J.C. (Jackson) and Steph (Gilmore). He's been a key part of our success," McCourty said, bashfully downplaying his own contributions against Hill.

"I think his ability physically to run with Tyreek Hill – as much as anyone can with him – and go out there and compete against him, I think if you pair that together with the game plans that we've had it's been pretty good."

Looking back at film from the 2018 AFC Championship game, Jones and McCourty often double-teamed Hill, but since then, Jones has done a fine job against the speedy receiver 1-on-1, with Hill being held to less than 80 yards in every game against New England since.

In their last matchup, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was 1-for-3 in targeting Hill with Jones in coverage, allowing just one catch for 22 yards.

But Mahomes is not Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins quarterback whom Hill has rained profuse praise on all summer.

"I would say this is pretty unique because now we're going against a guy in a whole new offense," McCourty added.

"It's not as easy as throwing up Kansas City film and saying, 'Let's do something similar to what we did before.' I think it's going to be different. We've been trying to blend preseason games with what San Fran did and trying to say, 'This guy could be in this role.' But it's hard to tell."

New England has one more practice in Palm Beach on Friday before traveling down to Miami for Week 1. The Patriots and Dolphins start their season Sunday at 1 p.m. ET – at which point they'll get a good look at Hill in his new offense.

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