Ahead of Monday night's game against the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph offered a matter-of-fact assessment of the Pats' play-calling under Matt Patricia.
"I see an offense that's running the football well. It's a very conservative pass game -- lot of screens, all kind of screens. It's how a defensive guy would call offensive plays, right? 'Let's not turn the ball over, let's get 4 yards a play, and let's try to burn clock,'" Joseph said. "That's what they're doing and that's what he's going to do on Monday night. He's going to be patient. Maybe take a shot from time to time. But for the most part, it's run game, it's quick game, and it's screens."
Coming from a defensive coordinator, Joseph might not have intended his assessment to be a dig at Patricia, but it certainly is a glaring indictment of an offense that lacks creativity and explosive action.
The Pats have scored only 10 points in two of their past three games. They rank tied for last in the NFL in red-zone scoring, 25th on third downs and 28th in total first downs.
New England has failed to score a TD on seven consecutive red-zone drives. On Monday night, they face a Cards defense that ranks 32nd in the red zone and 31st in points allowed. Something has to give.
Despite his comments about the play-calling, Joseph said the Pats present some potential for explosive plays.
"It's scary when you watch the group because they have so much talent around Mac, and Mac's a good, young quarterback. He can process information quickly, the ball's out of his hands quickly. He's very, very smart," he said. "So you're kind of waiting for it explode, because they have so much talent on offense. But it's been run, quick game and it's been more screens. Hopefully they don't change that much Monday for us."
When the defensive coordinator of your opponent is praying you keep the same strategy, you know it's not working.