3 Patriots Players to Watch in Week 2 Matchup vs. Seahawks
The New England Patriots have their hands full this week, going against a tough, well-comprised Seattle Seahawks team.
This Seattle team ripped through the Atlanta Falcons in last week's contest, mostly by going off-script and going against normal Pete Carroll tendencies.
Despite all their success last week, Coach Carroll suggested that things may go back to the old looking Seahawks offense we have seen before. That specifically means more of an emphasis on the running game. While this could all be smoke and mirrors by the head coach, we'll see what kind of approach they go with this week.
This game will be no easy task for the Patriots. Regardless of the approach, going into Seattle, on a Sunday night, fans or no fans, is never easy.
Let's break down three players to watch in this tough, primetime matchup.
The gameplan against the Seahawks is going to differ greatly from last week's plan against the Miami Dolphins. These defenses share very little in common. One big difference is their fronts on the defensive line. Seattle's defensive line is a whole lot more aggressive and will swallow up the power run plays that New England ran last week. A more effective approach from the Patriots on the ground will be through zone runs, which we see White run a lot.
New England is diverse in their rushing approach, or at least they have been in the past, mixing in all sorts of different run schemes to attack different weak points of a given defense. While all three running backs (White, Sony Michel, and Rex Burkhead) have experience running this zone concept, White seemingly specializes in it.
Along with that, White will probably not just see a solid chunk of carries, but will also see some action in the passing game. Being the Patriots' top receiving back, he will be asked to stretch players like Bobby Wagner on passing concepts. The formula will be to have a receiver run a route into the linebacker's zone, as the Seahawks notoriously play a lot of Cover 3 read (which basically becomes man coverage after the snap as whoever enters each defender's Cover 3 zone is now their man). With White running short into the zone, New England can run receiver routes right behind the linebacker's back, attacking the middle of the field, forcing the defender to pick between two options to cover. This will open up passing lanes for Cam Newton as he will likely be forced to go to the air much more than he did last week against Miami.
Long story short, the Patriots can use White in different ways to attack basic principles of Carroll's defense, along with simplify things for their new quarterback.
Jackson got the game ball last week for another impressive performance in his still young career at cornerback. Jackson needs to be on his game again and do what he does best, as a huge test is coming his way.
While it's unclear who Jackson will over for the majority of this contest, New England will have the choice of either placing him on D.K. Metcalf or Tyler Lockett. Both have the ability to burn defenders deep, and both catch passes from a phenomenal deep-ball thrower in Russell Wilson.
Jackson's game and main strength is taking away the deep ball, therefore, with an offense that is coming off such a hot week in Atlanta through the air, it will be interesting to see how they attack this secondary, and how they go about attacking Jackson.
We are looking at a player in Jackson who is in the final year of his deal and just hired agent Drew Rosenhaus to ensure he gets his payday in 2021. While last year was Stephon Gilmore's year, this could be the year that Jackson really starts to shine himself. This game will be a big test for him and will really help indicate where he is in his development.
I came really close to making this last section about N'Keal Harry, or telling readers to eye Newton once again this week. It feels like everyone will be watching those two to a degree. With an expected increased emphasis on the passing game this week, Newton and Harry will obviously be players to watch. However, along with them, incomes Byrd.
Byrd was on the field a lot last week, although he wasn't really involved in the gameplan. Last week wasn't really Byrd's week to shine, as the heavy emphasis on the run game and some designed play-action passes really took him out of the game. The Patriots were not ready to test the strong cornerback group of the Dolphins with Byrd downfield. With that being said, some opportunities were there on a few plays to hit Byrd deep. That just wasn't the focus on offense.
Fans should be excited about Byrd. Many do not realize it, but Byrd is a solid No. 3 option in New England's offense, and against some Cover 1 and Cover 3 concepts from the Seahawks he's going to have some opportunities to make his name heard.
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