The Patriots secondary will be key to stopping the Chiefs’ passing attack.
The New England Patriots will face the Kansas City Chiefs yet again on Sunday, which now feels like an annual event. This time, the script is flipped, with KC as the defending Super Bowl champs and Cam Newton as NE’s starting QB. There are a ton of storylines in this one, but an underrated bit is Patriots cornerback Jonanthan Jones‘ significance.
He’s the team’s starting slot corner in a secondary loaded with talent. Though he has Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson and Jason McCourty alongside him, Jones’ role defending the fastest receivers on the opposing team is a daunting task and it’s even more difficult when getting caught up in crossing routes, formation changes, and motions.
That’s why he’ll be a primary figure in helping the Patriots stop the Chiefs’ passing attack.
Last year against the Chiefs, Jones played 100% of the defensive snaps, which isn’t something you often see on the Patriots unless you’re among the best players on either side of the ball. We already know Gilmore, Jackson and McCourty will be the big names making plays, but Jones, especially against a Chiefs offense that boasts Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman and others, will be just as integral.
And the Chiefs line all of these guys up in the slot in some capacity, so he’ll be seeing just about everyone. That’s how flexible this KC offense is, and Andy Reid does a tremendous job of trying to create mismatches by moving his receivers all over.
Luckily for the Patriots, they have a defensive mastermind in Belichick scheming up their plans as well as four starting-caliber cornerbacks. But Jones will be seeing a lot of Kelce and Hill, both of whom have been among tops in the league in 2018 and 2019 in gaining yards out of the slot.
Jones will be responsible for remaining in single coverage but will have safety help, and we’ve seen disguises in which Jones will leave his receiver for the safety and then either come up to catch another coming underneath or break off and help defend another on a crossing route. His job will be far from one-dimensional and he’ll primarily be tasked with keeping the Chiefs’ top pass-catchers in check since Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, will mostly be handling Watkins.
Jones has now seen the Chiefs and this iteration of the offense with Mahomes under center for two straight years. Third time’s a charm, so don’t be surprised if we see a big game from the 27-year-old.