Suffering a season-ending shoulder injury earlier in the year, Jonathan Jones had to watch all three of the New England Patriots’ games against the Buffalo Bills in 2021 from his couch. From there, he saw the Patriots win the first matchup before getting dominated in the following two — including a 47-17 blowout in the wild card playoff round.
That loss in particular is still hanging over the Patriots like a dark cloud, with Jones lamenting the fact hat he could not impact the outcome of that game.
“From my perspective, I was hurt, so it was like watching your brother in a fight and not being able to help,” Jones told reporters on Tuesday.
“I’m excited. Having to sit back and watching your team play, and you’re not out there, is never a good feeling.”
New England entered that postseason contest against an explosive Bills team shorthanded in the secondary. Not only was Jones out, the team was also missing fellow starting cornerback Jalen Mills after a positive Covid-19 diagnosis.
Both Jones and Mills will be back this week, and in combination with improved depth across he entire defensive backfield should give the Patriots a better chance against one of the NFL’s most productive offenses. Frankly, though, New England will need all the help it can get.
“You have one of the best quarterbacks, one of the best offenses, they do so much, they can attack you in a variety of ways,” Jones said. “We have our work cut out for us, but we’re a good team as well.”
Besides quarterback Josh Allen, the Patriots have had a hard time stopping another member of the Bills’ high-octane attack last year: wide receiver Stefon Diggs. With Jones out of the lineup, New England trusted Pro Bowler J.C. Jackson to guard Diggs but he still won his battles.
Now, Jones might be asked to go up against Buffalo’s WR1. On Tuesday, he gave a brief breakdown of the potential matchup awaiting him.
“He can go deep, short, intermediate. He has every level,” Jones said about the Bills’ leading pass catcher. “He does a good job of changing his pace within his routes, so not everything’s always 100 miles an hour. He understands route concepts as a receiver.”
Diggs is not the only Bills wideout capable of giving the Patriots problems, though. As Jones pointed out, they have “every weapon in the toolbox to use” with Gabriel Davis and Isaiah McKenzie also capable of putting pressure on a defense.
Nonetheless, the veteran cornerback is looking forward to the battle — especially after last seasons’s absence.
“Just having the opportunity to be out there this year, I’m excited.”