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Patriots calls reflect Patricia’s roots

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who is preparing to face quarterback Mac Jones and the New England Patriots offense on Monday night, said the defensive approach of the unit stands out.

Joseph complimented the Patriots’ talent, noting that the way they play reflects Matt Patricia’s roots as a former defensive coordinator.

“I see an attack that handles football well. It’s a very conservative passing game – lots of screens, all kinds of screens. That’s what a defender would call attacking plays – ‘let’s not turn it around. ball, let’s get 4 yards a game, and try to burn the clock,” he said.

“That’s what they do and that’s what he’s going to do on Monday night. He’s going to be patient. Maybe take a shot once in a while. But for the most part it’s a racing game. , it’s a fast-paced game and it’s screens.”

That approach was the root of Jones’ frustration boiling over the sideline in last Thursday’s 24-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Jones later explained that he was calling for less “fast play” and more throwing deep down the field, adding that his rant was not directed at anyone in particular and was aimed at creating a spark for the team.

The Patriots were shorthanded along the offensive line, which could have helped the approach a week after Jones threw for a career-high 382 yards in a loss to the Vikings. But it’s been a struggle for offense for long stretches of the season, as the unit tied for last in the NFL in red zone efficiency, 25th on third down, 25th in sacks taken by passing game and 28th overall in first downs.

Head coach Bill Belichick said earlier this week that it was “too hard” to make sweeping changes on offense, adding: “If we can just do, consistently, this what we do, I think everything will be fine.”

Joseph said the Cardinals will focus on running back Rhamondre Stevenson on Monday, calling him a “special” player and adding, “the offense definitely goes through him.”

Despite the Patriots’ lower ranking in several key categories, Joseph — whose defense ranks last in the NFL in the red zone and 31st in points allowed — sees potential for their offense.

“It’s scary when you look at the group because they have so much talent around Mac, and Mac is a good young quarterback. He can process information quickly, the ball gets away from him quickly. He’s very, very smart,” he said.

“So you kind of expect it to explode because they have so much talent in attack. But it’s been run, fast play and there’s been more screens. Hopefully they don’t change so much that’s Monday for us.”

Receiver Jakobi Meyers, who leads the team with 593 receiving yards and is second with 50 catches, is officially under concussion protocol after being hit in the head last Thursday. This calls his status into question for Monday’s game.

ESPN Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss contributed to this report.

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