It’s a disappointing day here in New England following yesterday’s 28-21 loss to the Jets, and one day later, here are some thoughts and observations on the game.
- The defense did their job yesterday – New England didn’t reach the endzone for the first time yesterday until nearly the fourth quarter of play, scoring on a touchdown to Alge Crumpler with just :15 left in the 3rd. At that point the score was 14-11, and prior to that they had eight offensive possessions but came away with just 3 points. Hate to say it, but they played as well as we could have hoped yesterday.
- No adjustment on offense was an issue – There are a lot of people questioning the playcalling yesterday, but I was more confused about the lack of adjustment due to what New York was doing. New England did the right thing by calling that screen to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, it just wasn’t executed well by Tom Brady and he completely overthrew him, and that’s why it was picked off. From that point on we didn’t really see them go to it again, and with the way the Jets were blitzing, that was an element that seemed to be missing.
I’m also surprised that we didn’t see New England go into the no huddle sooner yesterday, because it was clear that the Jets had a tough time dealing with substitutions when the tempo of the game increased. Watching the game again this morning along with looking at the gamebook, we saw five injuries noted during the game by New York, at least three of which seemed to come at strange points in the game that looked like the Jets were trying and slow things down. They really needed to try and do something to keep New York off balance, and that just didn’t materialize yesterday.
- They drafted both tight ends, but really haven’t utilized both completely in the same game – We saw them try and get Rob Gronkowski involved early in the game, but Aaron Hernandez didn’t get much of an opportunity, and they could have used his intensity. As we know Hernandez has been a guy that they’ve done a good job of getting him out in the open field so he could make plays. He had just one reception yesterday, but it didn’t seem like he was really in their game plan. They could have used him on a tight end screen and let him make a play or two to get things going…why they didn’t is somewhat puzzling.
- The Welker benching was a non-factor – Obviously Belichick had to do something thanks to Welker’s comments from earlier in the week where he made the repeated foot references during his press conference. As a result he held him out of the first offensive series, but they still had success early on from Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski on their opening drive. Unfortunately after seven plays where they had gotten down to the Jets 28, Brady was obviously picked off and that drive came to an end. Some people out there blame Welker being benched as the reason they stumbled on that drive. I disagree, it was just a bad throw and I don’t think having Welker in the game at that point would have changed much, although I’m sure there will be people who feel otherwise.
- The Fake Punt – bad idea due to the field position – We learned last night that that call is made based on the match-ups in terms of the number of players and the distance, but I think that has to be decided more based on where they were. Normally it would have been the right call (and we learned later that Patrick Chung made the decision) – but the wrong part of the field to attempt it on. They were at their own 38 – had they been closer to midfield I think it would have made more sense to try. Unfortunately it didn’t work out because Chung dropped the ball, and at that point it ended up giving the Jets great field position.
- That 7+ minute drive in the fourth quarter decided the game – Down 21-11 at the 13:00 mark in the fourth quarter, New England was still very much in the game. However, they burned nearly 8-minutes on a drive that they couldn’t afford to come up empty on. They ended up turning the ball over on downs with 5:15 left in the game, and that unfortunately was the defining moment in the game. There was little urgency on that drive and the Deion Branch false start penalty was frustrating, because it came after five straight plays where they had gained yards and were moving the ball. The wide receiver spot should be the last person who should be drawing that penalty, and they seemed to lose momentum after that. However, to burn that much time off the clock and come away with nothing to show for it, that was obviously tough to overcome.
I think the biggest thing to note is the fact that the defense didn’t get stage fright and the new guys played pretty well, and they did about as much as we could have expected. They’ll be even better next year with a season under their belt along with guys like Leigh Bodden and Ty Warren hopefully coming back strong next year.
In the end what was missing Sunday was they needed an MVP performance from Brady and the offense, and it just didn’t happen. They may say defense wins championships, but with a quarterback of his caliber along with some of the new guys they added, three points in three quarters just isn’t enough to win in the playoffs.