Here’s an example where Jones doesn’t hang on the read long enough to see tight end Mike Gesicki wide open up the seam. The Pats are running a double-seam concept that floods Washington’s cover three zone. With the Commanders disguising the coverage and Henry’s route holding the boundary corner, the post safety is late to the seam. In a very similar throw to Pharaoh Brown’s touchdown against the Jets in Week 3, this has a chance to be a house call if Jones hits Gesicki in stride.
“It’s always easy to do it with a clicker, right? Sit there and see it. As a quarterback, you have to make decisions. Really for e, it’s just about being decisive. So even if it’s the right decision and you’re decisive then you’re not going to be wrong. Obviously, there’s plays that I could hit or wait a little bit and hit some open guys,” Jones said this week.
The reason we shared this example is because Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley calls more cover threes (51.5%) than any other defense in the NFL. Indy also plays zone structures at a league-high rate (87.7%). The Patriots will likely call similar plays to flood deep zones in Germany, so it’s up to Jones to let those plays develop.
Although Mac’s bad habits developed due to poor pass protection early in the season, New England’s offensive line play has leveled off since moving Mike Onwenu to right tackle. In three games with Onwenu at right tackle, Jones has been under pressure on a modest 29.1% of his throws, compared to 36.5% in the first six games.
Furthermore, he “in rhythm” throws where Jones’ time to throw is in the 2.5 to four-second range, the pressure rate is still a manageable 39.5% (league average – 41.3%). Rhythm throws are more indicative of Jones’s time in the pocket in the drop-back pass game since we are removing screens and quick-game concepts where the ball is designed to be out of his hands quickly, which can skew the pressure rate for a game .
When his internal clock and footwork in the pocket are sharp, Jones is a capable passer. Mac needs to settle down in the pocket, play with poise, and crisper footwork. Then, he has a chance to play some winning football in the second half of the season — trust the process, and results will follow.
Before we get into the Colts, let’s shout out to Frankfurt, Germany, with Sunday’s game being played at Deutsche Bank Park. It’s been a great week here for Patriots.com, and this has been a very cool experience. But this is a big game for New England’s brass. It’s an island TV game in a market the organization wants to appeal to internationally. A dud in Frankfurt to fall to 2-8? It’s a tenuous situation.
Here are our keys to victory and key matchups for the Patriots against the Colts on Sunday:
*Offensive Key – Now is Your Chance to Scheme Guys Open vs. and Zone-Heavy Defense *
In After Further Review, we mentioned a coaching philosophy that scheme creates openings against zone coverage while receivers beat man coverage.
Unfortunately, the Patriots receivers have struggled to separate against tight man coverage this season, ranking 28th in the league in EPA per drop-back when defenses play man-to-man schemes. Luckily, the Colts defense only plays man coverage on 12.3% of their coverage snaps.
Gus Bradley’s defensive system might be a reprieve from the book on the Pats offense. As mentioned, Bradley’s Colts play more zone coverage (87.7%) than any defense in the NFL, particularly different variations of cover three zones. Bradley is sending all-out pressure more lately, but the Colts are also 31st in blitz rate (19.3%). Instead, Indy relies on their front four, led by All-Pro DeForest Buckner, to pressure quarterbacks.
Bradley will play a combination of traditional spot-drop cover three while mixing in cover three “mable” schemes, where the backside defenders will lock into man coverage with the rest of the defense sticking to cover three rules. Although the system has evolved to avoid extinction, this is a Seattle-3 defense. Bradley, of course, was the Seahawks defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012.
Along with flooding deep zones with route combinations like the example in the intro, the Patriots will probably stick to Mac’s comfort zone by attacking the short zone coverages, which could make this a big game for RB Rhamondre Stevenson and New England’s bunch/stick concepts.
Starting with Stevenson, the Patriots have taken down the Seattle-3 scheme in the past by getting their backs in space against short zone defenders (think Shane Vereen/James White in SBs 51 and 53). They can also use the backs to flood hook zones in the middle of the field.