By: Russ Goldman
Yesterday’s 28-14¬†loss to the New York Jets was really¬†tough to watch. I knew that a Patriots victory¬†would have been devastating for the New Yorkers.¬†Going into the game,¬†the Jets were a desperate team, and the Pats¬†were a team trying to build an identity with many young players. What you witnessed yesterday was¬†that desperation won over a¬†team trying to grow up.
I am sure you are going to read¬†and listen today that the Patriots are “who we thought they were.“ You will hear that the defense was terrible, and there is very little positive to take away from a loss. I am going to tell you that these reactionary views¬†of a loss are not looking at the big picture. This was one game and one loss. The season is a marathon and not a sprint.
In all three units of the team¬†there is youth in many key positions for the Patriots. On defense it is¬†in all 3 levels of this unit. On offense¬†there is youth on the offensive line, and in some of the skill positions. On special teams you have a young punter, and many other players who are learning on the job.¬†The young players are going to make mistakes.
There are¬†positives to take away from this loss. I still saw players flying around on defense. I also saw this unit pressure Mark Sanchez and hit him. I also witnessed players in the right place to make plays on defense.¬†On the offensive side of the ball I saw young skill players making contributions. The Patriots are¬†a work in progress, so I’m looking at this¬†loss as a learning experience.¬† I have to say I’m feeling more confident than ever that the New England Patriots are only going to get better as the season goes on. I say let them make the mistakes now and learn from them.
New England needed to try and get Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez more involved in the second half of Sunday’s loss (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)
On offense, I¬†witnessed a well tuned machine in the first half. The Patriots were moving the ball at will. Tom Brady was sharp, and he was involving everyone in the game. In the second half I saw Brady become dependent on Randy Moss. Forcing the ball to Moss was really the issue in the second half. Instead of spreading it around like you saw in the first half, Brady threw it up to a covered¬†Moss twice which resulted in two key interceptions.¬†
But, I also watched young skill players learning on the job. The tight ends and the young wide receivers made some plays. I think these players will only get better as the season progresses.
On defense, I watched two cornerbacks go through the growing pains that¬†I thought we would see.¬†Braylon Edwards and Jericho Cotchery¬†did a job on Devin McCourty and Darius Butler. However, as I stated earlier, these corners were in positions to defend.¬†I think with experience some of these catches you saw yesterday, in future games they could become deflections or interceptions.
But,¬†I did see some encouraging signs from this young defense. They were getting to Mark Sanchez and hitting him. Jermaine Cunningham had some flashes in this game.¬†Mark Sanchez did not have all day to throw the ball. To his credit he made¬†the plays to win the game yesterday. This unit in my opinion was not terrible. It was just learning on the job.
On special teams, unfortunately this unit struggled yesterday.¬†Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal.¬† This unit also didn’t give the Patriots the great field position I had hoped for.
Overall, I am chalking this loss up¬†to a good learning experience which I think will pay dividends later in the season. The Patriots are¬†“who I thought they were,”¬†which is a young team finding its way. I think you will see a much different result the next time these teams play.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
As I always do, I like to look¬†back at my keys to victory to see what kind of role they played in the game. Were my factors a difference yesterday? Below¬†is my analysis of¬† “My Five Keys To¬†Victory For The Patriots Against The Jets.”¬†
1. The¬†Patriots offensive line needs to protect Tom Brady.¬†For the most¬†part¬†they did their job yesterday. They gave Brady time to throw the ball, but all it took was one bad play¬†by this unit to overshadow a good performance. Late in the game with the Patriots driving Matt Light was beat by Patriots nemesis¬†Jason Taylor, who sacked¬†Brady and caused a fumble which was recovered by the Jets.¬† That play effectively ended any hope they had for a comeback.¬†
¬†2. The defensive line needs to stop the running¬†game of the Jets.¬† Early in this game I thought¬†they did a good job. However, in the second half LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene started to run the ball effectively. The Jets ran for a total of 136 yards.¬†The ability to not stop the run in the second half¬†hurt the Pats.¬†
3. Wes Welker and the Patriot¬†tight ends need to move the chains for the Patriots.¬†I Thought all three players were able to be¬†effective and move the chains. Aaron Hernandez had a solid game.¬†He had 6 catches for 101 yards, while¬†Wes¬†Welker¬†had 6 receptions for 38 yards. I just wish that Brady went to these players more in the¬†second half.
4. Special teams¬†need to¬†really have a positive effect on field position for the Pats. This unit was decent, but did not really¬†have a situation where the Pats had great field position to start a drive. A¬†few times the Pats started at¬†around the 30 yard line. I was hoping there would be situations where the¬†Pats would start a drive at the 40 or even midfield. Again, it wasn’t not a bad job against a Jets team that has a pretty good special teams group of their own.¬†¬†¬†¬†
5. Tom Brady‚Äôs quick release and¬†decision-making ability could¬†offset the Jets pressure.¬† Brady did a nice job in getting the ball away to his receivers.¬†He was able to offset the Jets pressure pretty well throughout the game.¬† I just question his repeated attempts to force the ball to Moss in the second half, as that one still doesn’t make any sense to me.
I have to say that my “keys” yesterday were minor factors in this loss.¬†This game came down to growing pains on defense, and a dependency on trying to throw to Randy Moss on offense.
I tip my hat to the New York Jets yesterday. They won this game, and deserved the victory. The crazy thing is the Jets might have done the Pats a favor. They taught them some lessons that¬†I think are going to pay off later this season.