Familiar faces with similar problems look to lead their respective teams to victory Sunday when the New England Patriots visit the Las Vegas Raiders.
Let’s start with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has seen his struggling team average an NFL-worst 11.0 points per game this season. New England (1-4) has been outscored a staggering 72-3 over its last two games and gone 34 consecutive drives without scoring an offensive touchdown.
Belichick, however, confirmed Wednesday that Mac Jones will remain the team’s starter despite pulling the quarterback in consecutive contests. Jones is just 24-for-43 for 260 yards and four interceptions in that stretch.
“Right now, it’s not looking too good,” Jones said of his team’s troubles. “But we have to flip the switch and start over and figure out ways to go out there and have fun and sling the ball around — guys go make plays and then celebrate with each other, too.
“One of the best things I do is my ability to communicate. Somebody told me that in the locker room and I took it to heart; I need to do a better job of that.”
Jones’ job this weekend could be a bit tougher given his injured wide receiver corps. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Demario Douglas did not participate in Wednesday’s practice while in the NFL’s concussion protocol, leaving DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne as the top options for Jones.
While the Patriots have the NFL’s 26th-ranked total offense (287.4 yards per game) and 26th-ranked rushing offense (83.8), don’t expect Raiders coach Josh McDaniels to take his opponent lightly. After all, he knows Belichick quite well after joining New England in 2001 as a personnel assistant before shuffling over to defensive assistant, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
“I have great respect for their team and their coaching staff and obviously for Bill,” said McDaniels, who is 2-0 in his coaching career against Belichick.
“They’ll be ready to play. They’ve got a lot of things that they do that create issues for you. We’re going to have to, on a short week, get ready for a lot of different things. We have not seen a team that plays like this. There’s a lot of challenges inherently in getting ready for them. I’m sure he’ll have them ready to go.”
Like New England, Las Vegas (2-3) will need to find a way to ignite its sluggish offense. After all, the Raiders are listed as 29th in total offense (281.2) and 32nd — yes, dead last — in rushing (71.4).
Las Vegas mustered 279 total yards and 96 rushing in its 17-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers Monday. The decision snapped a three-game losing skid for the Raiders.
Former Patriots wideout Jakobi Meyers had seven catches for 75 yards and a touchdown versus the Packers. He has recorded at least seven receptions in three of the four games he has played this season since signing a three-year, $33 million contract in the offseason.
Speaking of former Patriots, Jimmy Garoppolo completed 22 of 31 passes for 208 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his return to the lineup from a concussion.
Maxx Crosby was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording five tackles — including a career-high-tying four for a loss — and a sack versus Green Bay.
Meyers (wrist) was listed as limited in the team’s estimated practice on Wednesday. Fellow wideout Davante Adams (shoulder) and cornerback Nate Hobbs were estimated as failing to participate.