The New England Patriots will host the New York Jets for the second of two meetings between the two divisional rivals on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The Pats and Jets last met on September 19 at MetLIfe Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Patriots defeated the Jets 25-6 in their Week Two matchup.
Though many Patriots players are expected to garner some attention during Sunday’s matchup, here are three players on offense that might raise an eyebrow when the Pats take the field against the Jets.
During the brief portions of practice, which reporters were permitted to watch this week, Onwenu has been seen taking snaps at right tackle. Should this continue, he would be expected to get the start at the position. With starting right tackle Trent Brown currently on injured reserve, and the platoon of Justin Herron/Yodny Cajuste/Yasir Durant having been sub par in a fill-in role, the Pats may have been forced into the move, by default. Luckily for New England, Onwenu is no stranger to the position. As a rookie, the Michigan product allowed a pressure on just 2.9 percent of all pass protection snaps. He ranked fifth out of all the league’s offensive tackles with a minimum 200 snaps in 2020. His 84.3 overall grade [via Pro Football Focus] was by far the best of any rookie offensive lineman. In last Sunday’s overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Per usual, he performed admirably, allowing one one pressure in 17 pass-blocking snaps. At his best, Onwenu has shown a consistent and impressive ability to overwhelm defenders in the run game, while anchoring well to protecting the passer. It is a rare occasion on which he is easily bypassed on a pass block. No matter how he is deployed on Sunday, Onwenu should provide some much needed prowess in both run and pass protection.
Bourne was targeted only twice in Week Six against the Cowboys, with one reception. However, his lone catch was a memorable one. The 26-year old was on the receiving end of a 75-yard touchdown strike from Mac Jones late in the fourth quarter, which gave the Patriots a 29-26 lead. Bourne should carry that momentum into Sunday’s matchup with the Jets. He, perhaps, may be the Patriots pass-catcher with the most knowledge of the Jets defensive schemes. Having practiced against a Robert Saleh-designed defense in San Francisco, Bourne is likely to recognize much of what New England may see on Sunday, acting as an effective target for Jones, either in the slot or on the outside. The versatile wideout is coming off of the most productive season of his four-year career as a member of the 49ers. Appearing in 15 of the San Francisco’s 16 games, Bourne was targeted 72 times, compiling 49 receptions on 667 yards receiving. He ranked second on the team behind receiver Brandon Aiyuk in all three categories. He also scored a pair of touchdowns. Along with solid stats, Bourne also proved to be reliable when taking the field. He took 688 of a possible 1,096 offensive snaps, while making five starts for San Francisco in 2020. However, Bourne proved to be a starting-caliber player throughout the season, as well as a top-two wide receiver option for the Niners. On Sunday, Bourne should see the majority of his time as the Patriots ‘Z’ receiver, while seeing some snaps at the ‘X’ role, as well.
For the second straight week, Stevenson is likely to be ‘worth the watch.’ The rookie running back rushed for 23 yards on five carries with one touchdown against Dallas. He also had 39 yards receiving on three catches. For Sunday’s matchup with the Jets, Stevenson possesses the necessary intangibles to be an effective option in both situational runs, as well as receiving out of the backfield. He is a physical, powerful runner, yet athletic enough to make tacklers miss in short yardage. The former Oklahoma Sooner nicely blends power and athleticism into his running style. That two-pronged attack should continue at Gillette Stadium Sunday against a Jets defense that struggles to stop the run. New York ranks 21st in run defense, allowing an average of 123.4 yards per game. New York's front actually did a pretty good job of containing the Patriots ground attack in Week 2 at the Meadowlands. As a result, Stevenson’s dual-threat capabilities could be a productive offensive weapon on Sunday against a tough Jets’ defensive front.