3 reasons to be concerned for Patriots in Week 9 matchup vs Colts

The banged-up Indianapolis Colts make the long trek to Foxborough on Sunday afternoon for an AFC clash with the New England Patriots.

After knocking off the New York Jets in Week 8, the Patriots have an opportunity to put together their first winning record of the season and potentially close the gap on the much-improved AFC East.

But the Colts are no cakewalk opponent.

Their defensive front can ruin an offensive game plan, and former Defensive Player of Year Stephon Gilmore is in the backfield. That’s the same Gilmore that helped the Patriots defense pitch a shutout against Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams at Super Bowl LIII.

How will Mac Jones and company fare in a head-to-head matchup with “Gilly Lock?” Today, let’s delve into the three reasons why the Patriots should be concerned about the Colts.

The Patriots' offensive line could be a disaster waiting to happen

Center David Andrews is missing along the offensive front, and right tackle Marcus Cannon is currently in concussion protocol. That leaves Mac Jones at the mercy of a makeshift offensive line against a stout Colts pass rush.

Make no mistake, DeForest Buckner and Yannick Ngakoue can cause serious problems for Jones and company. A few big hits from those two could unravel everything for Jones under center.

The fact of the matter is the Patriots cannot allow their starting quarterback to get punished like he did against a Jets team that sacked him six times with eight quarterback hits. Right tackle Isaiah Wynn needs to stand his ground and avoid the same boneheaded penalties that have plagued him throughout the season.

James Ferentz doesn’t need to be a hero as Andrews’ replacement, but he does need to show some consistency to keep Jones from being rushed up the gut, where he’s typically the most vulnerable.

No Jonathan Taylor doesn't necessarily mean fewer problems for the Patriots

Colts coach Frank Reich ruled out All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor on Sunday, which is obviously a big loss for Indy. Nothing good could ever come from a run-heavy team losing their No. 1 running weapon.

But simmer down, Patriots fans, Deon Jackson is no pushover.

He rushed for 42 yards and one touchdown, while also hauling in a ridiculous 10 receptions for 79 yards the last time he was asked to carry the load in the offensive backfield. The Colts are going to find ways to put the ball in his hands and get him involved in the offense.

Another defensive collapse against the run could lead to big problems for the Patriots. It’s imperative that the defensive front remains disciplined in their run lanes because the Colts will clearly want to test them with an inexperienced quarterback under center.

Things got ugly at Gillette Stadium last time

Mac Jones’ last appearance at Gillette Stadium was downright pitiful. He worked his way back from a high ankle sprain only to get benched and booed off the field in favor of rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe.

Belichick did say the game plan was always to have his second-year starter on a limited snap count, but the fact that he was benched after throwing only one interception in the game made for horrible optics for the Patriots. It looked like a performance-based decision and the team giving way to a legitimate quarterback controversy.

But Jones returned to the lineup as the starter in Week 8 and helped lead the Patriots to a victory over the New York Jets. However, those question marks are still there from that previous Monday night meltdown. Will the Zappe chants start back up if the offense struggles? More importantly, would Belichick pull Jones if he throws another interception?

The last time the Patriots played musical chairs at the quarterback position, they got blown out of Gillette Stadium by a bad Chicago Bears team.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire