The Patriots and Jaguars will meet this weekend in Jacksonville at 4:25 pm on Sunday, September 16. Both teams are coming off Week One victories as the Patriots took down the Texans and the Jaguars took down the Giants.
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey caused a lot of buzz in the offseason trashing his opponents, including Pats TE Rob Gronkowski. Ramsey said “I don’t think Gronk’s good” to ESPN, adding “anytime Gronk has been matched up with a corner, he’s had a very bad game, and that corner has had a very good game.”
Gronk and the Patriots defeated Ramsey and the Jaguars in last years AFC Championship Game 24-20, but Brady does not have a lot of the targets he used to lead his team to Super Bowl LII, here are three stats to look for this week:
Brady was 26/39 through the air hitting eight different receivers, that is very impressive for having what both the positive and negative side of the media call his worst receiving corps ever. Three of these receivers were new to Brady since the Jaguars were in New England in January. With the Pats releasing Riley McCarron this week, who Brady targeted once but could not connect with, losing Jeremy Hill to an ACL injury, and adding Corey Coleman and Bennie Fowler to the roster, Brady will again have to get used to new faces while preparing for 2017’s 2nd best defense.
The Jaguars had 137 rushing yards against the Giants last weekend, 42 of which came on 4 attempts from Bortles. The Patriots gave up 167 rushing yards to the Texans including 40 yards on the ground from Watson on 8 carries, and Watson is known to be a much more mobile and athletic quarterback. Look for the Patriots front 4, who also caused 15 pass disruptions (3 sacks, 11 QB hits, and 5 pressures according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic) out of 37 dropbacks, to do well against the run for a second consecutive week.
The Patriots new and improved offensive line allowed two sacks on Sunday, which is very good for the “September Patriots.” Belichick is known to treat September like an extended preseason, which he still is, but not as heavily with his O-line. Now that Brady is 41, Belichick and O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia may have prepared more than usual this summer to further protect the quarterback. Brady said the Pats “got to do basically everything better” in his post-game press conference after defeating the Texans, so look for them to do a better job protecting Brady on Sunday.
-Johnny Maffei is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @johnnyBSBL4