By: Derek Havens
After a long week of trash talking and anticipation, the Jets backed up their words with a strong performance on Sunday afternoon. Surprisingly, to both analysts and fans alike, the Patriot’s season came to a close abruptly. The Patriots played very uncharacteristic football throughout the games entirety. Coming to Gillette Stadium and going toe-to-toe with the Pats is something that the club has not been accustomed to in over a year. The Jets dominated in every phase of the game and even though the Patriots kept the score close, the team really never had a solid grip on their division rival.
The Jets coverage down the field was nearly perfect, and Brady was hit more times than any other throughout the season. In the end, the Jets made more plays to win the game. Whether the Patriots were the better team or not is irrelevant. Simply put, the Jets came to play and the Patriots were not up to the challenge; a rarity for this organization in 2010.
The focus of the Patriots now turns to the off-season. Contract situations, free agency, the draft, and training camps will occupy both the team and its fans for the next few months. With eight players ProBowl eligible and Bill Belichick the expected coach for the AFC, the immediate focus shifts to Hawaii. Belichick’s opportunity to coach the AFC squad might give him a chance to evaluate any player from the conference who might become a free agent. The most recent example, although not the best, is Adalius Thomas in 2007. Belichick’s extra time with Thomas gave him the first hand experience to bring him to the club the following season. Even if the memory of Thomas is not the most flattering, a different scenario could unfold in the future.
Even though it may be difficult to look past Sunday evening, there is a silver lining to Sunday’s defeat. The Patriots were 14 – 2 throughout the regular season in what was suppose to be a rebuilding year. With 6 draft selections in the first 96 overall picks in the upcoming draft, the team will continue to add talent and improve its roster. A strong off-season could put the team back in the American conference driver seat when the new season begins. Hopefully, for football fans across the nation, the NFL will resolve their CBA negotiations in a timely fashion. For now, both the team and its loyal fans will reflect on the regular season, in what will most certainly prove to be a long off-season.