The Patriots are going to be playing against a completely different style of offense than they saw in Seattle on Sunday night. The Seahawks have serious receiving threats on the outside and one of the most skilled quarterbacks of this generation.
The Raiders have much less offensive firepower, but the Patriots defense will still have some talented players to account for. Las Vegas has two key players to hone in on, Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. If you can suppress those two players, the defense should be able to contain the Raiders new-look offense.
Stack The Box With Run Stoppers
The first step to stopping the Raiders is to respect the run game. The Raiders ran for 116 yards on Monday, but only averaged 3.3 yards per carry. If the Patriots can hold Gruden’s offense to 3.3 yards per carry, they will be in good shape. The Saints lost because they had to stack the box all game but did not have nearly as much secondary talent as the Patriots will be bringing with them. They got killed in single coverage last week. The Patriots should be able to stack the box and trust that their secondary can keep the Raiders young receiving core smothered.
The Patriots linebacking core has shown a lack of lateral quickness, which really hurt the team with Wilson at the helm. This week however, Derek Carr will be standing still in the pocket and the Patriots will need to feature their 260 pound linebackers to bring down Jacobs, who is currently fifth in rushing yards this season. Ja’Whaun Bentley has played 114 of 124 snaps, and will need to have a big game, as he is responsible for bringing down Josh Jacobs all game long. John Simon has taken over that Van Noy/Ninkovich hybrid role this season and kept the defense in tact. Chase Winovich has been in on 89 of 124 snaps as starting edge rusher.
I’d love to see Anfernee Jennings get some real playing time this game. He was frequently compared to Kyle Van Noy during pre-draft evaluations and I would agree with those analysts. Jennings has only received 11 snaps these first two games, hopefully his role will be expanded on Sunday.
The Patriots should strongly consider going big up front, with Adam Butler and Byron Cowart getting majority of the snaps. Lawrence Guy should be in the rotation as well.
Put The Reigning DPOY On Darren Waller
Last week Darren Waller had 12 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. That is 38% of the teams passing yards and 43% of the teams receptions in week two. He is by far the best receiving option on a team of extremely inexperienced pass catchers. It would make a lot of sense to have Stephon Gilmore take on Darren Waller with some help from Adrian Philips, a safety that has been spending a lot of time in the box this season.
Put Jonathan Jones and J.C. Jackson on the Outside
The Raiders number one threat in the wide receiver room is Henry Ruggs III. He was drafted 12th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, mainly due to his 4.27 40-yard dash. It would make the most sense to have Ruggs III shadowed by Jonathan Jones. He will have some safety help from Devin McCourty and possibly fellow rookie Kyle Dugger, who played 54% of the defensive snaps last week and is known for his athleticism. Jones ran a 4.30 40-yard dash himself, and has really proven himself as a reliable cornerback. J.C. Jackson is another option to shadow Ruggs III, he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and has really impressed Belichick in his time in the league.
The Patriot’s coaching staff will do a great job of mixing in personnel and making the Raiders really work to move the football. The Patriots defensive roster has almost perfect prototypes to counter the Raiders strengths. New England should be able to stack the box while handling the Raiders pass catchers with a heavy dose of man coverage.
If you liked this article, check out my last article on how Dalton Keene can factor into the offense.