Mac Jones, Patriots preparing to face Eagles, 'best defensive line' in NFL: 'A bunch of beasts'

Mac Jones and the new-look New England Patriots offense are preparing to take on the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles and a menacing defensive front in Sunday's season opener.

"They have the best defensive line in the NFL," Jones said on Tuesday on WEEI. "At the end of the day, we just have to go out there and compete, try and control what we can control, and understand that we're going against a bunch of beasts."

Jones is not wrong.

The Eagles led the NFL with 70 sacks in 2022. The Kansas City Chiefs ranked second with 55 sacks, marking the first time a club had at least 15 more than the runner-up in the Super Bowl era, per NFL Research. It marked the fourth time a team reached 70 sacks in a season, joining the 1984 Bears (72), 1989 Vikings (71) and 1987 Bears (70).

Philadelphia became the first team in NFL history with four players with 10+ sacks in a season -- Haason Reddick (16.0), Josh Sweat (11.0), Javon Hargrave (11.0), Brandon Graham (11.0). Hargrave left in free agency, but the Eagles helped replace him with No. 9 overall pick Jalen Carter.

"Their front is a very dominant front," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said on Wednesday. "They're the best pass rushing front in the league by, I'd say, quite a bit, with good depth. So they can roll those guys out of there pretty comfortably and bring in other guys that are just as explosive, dangerous. They have a great combination of power and speed in the pass rush front."

We've seen the Patriots' offensive line struggle mightily during preseason and training camp, which doesn't forebode a clean opening week for Jones in his first real action in Bill O'Brien's offense. The Eagles' D-line versus the Patriots' O-line could be one of the biggest mismatches of Week 1.

Jones and the Pats will also face former offensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who joined the Eagles this offseason as a defensive assistant. While New England is installing a new offense, Patricia has institutional knowledge from years of working in the building, including the strengths and weaknesses of Jones and others.

"It's a great challenge," Jones said of matching up against Patricia and the Eagles. "As a competitor, you want to go out there and not think too much. Play fast and play my game. He's a great coach. He's coached in a lot of big games and stuff like that. They've got a great defense with a lot of great players."

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