Texans DC Lovie Smith not altering game plan for the Patriots and QB Mac Jones

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HOUSTON — After facing a trio of veteran quarterbacks the previous three weeks, the Houston Texans will go up against a rookie under center in Mac Jones, Sunday afternoon, during a Week 5 match against the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium.

Jones has arguably been the best rookie quarterback from the draft class of 2021, throwing for 1,012 yards and four touchdowns through the first four games of his NFL career.

Although it came in a loss, Jones is coming off what could have been his best performance this season, after throwing for 275 yards and two touchdowns amid a 19-17 loss to the Tamp Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Jones has found early success playing in the Patriots’ system, given his quick reads and releases from the pocket. But Texans’ defensive coordinator Lovie Smith is planning to exploit Jones’ best attribute in Houston’s favor.

“You can be productive by making a quarterback get the ball out quicker,” Smith said ahead of Thursday’s practice at Houston Methodist Training Center. “As soon as the ball gets out of the quarterback’s hands, it’s an opportunity for us to tackle them, and a lot of good things can happen from there.”

In terms of changing up the defense, Smith says there isn’t anything specifically he will alter when going up against a rookie quarterback versus a veteran. The objective for Houston’s defense will remain the same — create pressure up front and force takeaways.

During a Week 1 37-21 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Texans recorded three interceptions and a sack against rookie quarterback Trevor Lawerence in his NFL debut.

“If an NFL team puts a guy at quarterback, they feel pretty about him being able to do all the things they would like to do offensively,” he said. “Whoever the quarterback is — rookie or not — we have a game plan we feel strongly about.”

“He is running their offense and is running it well. It will be a great challenge for us.”

Smith says he has been most impressed with the way Jones has adjusted to the NFL, stating that it says a lot about a 23-year-old rookie who can take the reins as the Patriots starting quarterback following training camp.