Report Card: Patriots Win in a Dogfight

Derek Havens
September 13, 2013 at 09:00am ET

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The New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets on Thursday night 13-10. While the team did get the victory, they still has a lot of work to do moving forward. Here is my report card for week two. --

Offense Grade: F

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman played a big role in the team's Thursday night victory.
(USA TODAY Images)

Throughout the past several years, Patriots fans have seen New England dominate offensively. Thursday night was not one of those times. The Patriots could not get in gear running or passing during the divisional showdown. The only two positives was Julian Edelman's performance, posting a career high 13 receptions, and quality reps for the team's rookie receivers.

Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins gained great experience Thursday with live reps, but their performance was awful. More so Dobson, who after catching a 39-yard touchdown on his first career reception, had four drops on the night. Yes, the weather conditions in the second half may have played a factor, but that's no excuse for the several drops and overall lack of communication with quarterback Tom Brady. I have more faith Thompkins will improve from what I've seen the past two weeks.

Brady's frustration was visible during the game, saying in his post-game press conference, "I've got to do a better job with my body language," he said. "I can definitely improve on that. I wouldn't say that's a real strong point of mine right now." Telling comment by Brady.

The running game was also terrible, averaging a pathetic 2.3 yards per attempt. Give credit to the Jets strong front seven, but the offensive line and tailbacks struggled more than usual. Stevan Ridley's ball security concerns had Pats fans holding their breath during every carry.

No coincidence the team struggled so much on third down, 4-18 on the night, with wide receiver Amendola out. In week one, seven of Amendola's 10 catches were for first downs. The team's nine total first downs on the evening was the lowest since 1998.

If tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Shane Vereen and Amendola were available, the offense would have been much better. For now, however, the team has to overcome their injury woes. A lot of work to do moving forward.

Defense Grade: B+

Chandler Jones had two sacks for the Patriots in their home opener.
(USA TODAY Images)

The Patriots defense won the game Thursday night. There are a number of players who played great Thursday defensively, but cornerback Aqib Talib has to be the player of the game in my opinion. Fellow cornerbacks Alfonso Dennard and Kyle Arrington also played outstanding, but Talib’s two interceptions — including the eventual game-winner — sealed the deal for New England. Overall, the Patriots corners have really stepped up this season.

Vince Wilfork was dominated throughout the game by New York's guard Vladimir Ducasse. Chandler Jones played very well and I continued to be impressed with his rush when he moves inside to the defensive tackle position. Rob Ninkovich does everything well and is one of the more underrated defensive players in the league. The defensive line is still more of a threat than in years past. The front seven

The biggest negative for the defense was run defense. Jets tailbacks, Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory, combined for 100 yards on 25 carries. New York's running game was effective and kept drives alive for the team. If I was Rex Ryan, I would have leaned more on Chris Ivory, who played very well. The Pats need to do a better job getting off their blocks and wrapping up early. Linebackers Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes looked a step behind in coverage and were invisible in run support.

This is the second week in a row the Patriots defense has made a late game stand. I like the way Arrington and Wilfork represented the unit post-game, expressing the fight and heart in this team. As a fan, you have to be impressed with the apparent improvement the defense has made this season.

Special Teams Grade: C 

If you're a fan of punting, you had to love this contest. Pats rookie Ryan Allen booted the ball 11 times and tied a franchise record for most punt yards in a game with 514. Despite pinning four kicks inside the Jets 20, Allen had an up-and-down night for the second week in a row. There were several missed opportunities for improved field position.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was 2-3 on the night. His missed 48-yard attempt could have proved to be costly. Gostkowski's overall inconsistency has fans on the edge of their seat when he comes onto the field. One aspect of his game that is often overlooked, however, is his kickoffs. He did a great job not giving the Jets many return chances throughout the game.

Edelman's punt returns were the only real positive for the unit. Edelman has proven to be an elite returner, posting 72 return yards and averaging 12 yards per attempt. Considering his large role on offense as well, he was outstanding.

Overall Grade: C - 

There's a lot to digest after Thursday night's performance. While there is more bad than good from week two, the team is now 2-0 and both wins have come against division opponents. There's no question the Patriots need to improve in order to reach their ultimate goal. For a team with this many injuries, however, wins are even bigger at the beginning of the season.

The team now has 10 days before their week three contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the Patriots elect to add a veteran wide receiver, which many fans are calling for, now would be a good time to bring someone in. Whether that decision is made or not, is yet to be determined.

The offense will need to clean up and get more in sync moving forward. The defense only giving up 10 points is tremendous, no matter how lackluster the opponent. We'll see how the team  builds off this performance Sept. 22.