Patriots Report Card: New England Throttles Out-Matched Jaguars
The New England Patriots defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 51-17 on Sunday afternoon.
Here’s how the Patriots graded out in week three. —
Offense: A +
This just in. Tom Brady is really, really good at football. He joined Dan Marino, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the only four quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 400 career touchdowns. Brady reached the milestone with the fewest passing attempts of the group, beating Manning by 14 passes. Overall, a truly incredible accomplishment and the 38-year-old acted like it was just another day at the office.
Brady continues his 2015 tear, looking sharp again Sunday afternoon. He went 33-of-42 for 358 yards and two touchdowns. His 401 touchdown pass to recently acquired KeShawn Martin was the 55th player to ever catch a touchdown from the signal-caller.
Brady through the first three games: 96-of-133 for 1,112 yards and 9 touchdowns with no interceptions.
Sooner or later opposing defenses will start to guard Rob Gronkowski, right? It’s amazing how one of the leagues most dominant offensive weapons continues to run uncovered down the middle of the field. One of the biggest upsets Sunday was Gronk not scoring, but he still caught four passes for 101 yards.
Dion Lewis has settled into this offense nicely and now have some fans wondering — Shane Vereen Who? He rushed eight times for 37 yards and a touchdown, adding five catches for 30 yards through the air. LeGarrette Blount made sure to leave his mark too, however, taking his 18 carries and turning it into 78 yards. He scored three times on the day. Even when Patriots tried to run out the clock, they scored. Nearly every move they made Sunday was the right one.
Patriots drive chart —
2. Field goal
3. Field goal
5. Field goal
10. (Kneel down)
Amazingly, it seemed the Patriots left some points on the field. Specifically in the first half, New England had a few drives stall out in scoring territory. Obviously nit-picking here, but you better believe Bill Belichick will watch the film and see room for improvement.
Defense: B +
The Pats made Jacksonville one-dimensional, limiting their rushing attack to a pedestrian 2.8 yards-per-carry. Taking away the run, put more pressure on Bortles and made the Jaguars even easier to defend.
Jamie Collins had a slow start to the season in week one, but has come on the last two weeks. He was all over the field in week three and got to Bortles for a sack. Jabaal Sheard also got a sack and Devin McCourty made a terrific play to haul in his first interception of the year. It may have been against a less than average opponent, but the Patriots playmakers made their mark.
With all that said, and some may disagree, this was only a slightly above average performance by the defense. Jacksonville receivers created separation and there were plays to be made downfield, but Blake Bortles could not capitalize on the opportunities. He was disappointing in this contest. He was off target and inconsistent throughout the day, which have been big criticisms highlighted in his young career. If he was able to connect with better passes, this would have been a much closer — but not necessarily competitive — contest.
The secondary is still under a microscope and will continue to be the rest of the year. There were several mistakes Sunday, which hopefully Belichick can use this next week as a teaching opportunity to clean it up. Logan Ryan is firmly on the hot seat and while Duron Harmon has made some key interceptions going back to last year’s playoffs, he was caught taking a bad angle this week.
Special Teams: A
Ryan Allen was given a contract extension in the off-season, but he sure hasn’t had many opportunities to show he’s worthy of the teams good faith. New England did not punt once Sunday. In fact, they have only done so five times through the first three games. It’s possible Allen didn’t even shower after this game. His most important contribution was holding the ball as Stephen Gostkowski kicked his way into the record books.
Like Allen, Gostkowski was extended by the team during the off-season and he continues to show why he’s one of the best at his position in the NFL. The 31-year-old broke the NFL record for consecutive PATs (423). There’s a good chance this record is never broken now that the league has moved the attempts back to the 33 yard line. He’s cool, clutch and consistent. Worth every penny of his big contract, which made him the highest paid kicker in the NFL.
Matthew Slater isn’t a household name outside of Patriots Nation, but he’s one of the great special teams aces across the league. Want an example? Watch No.18 sniff out the fake punt attempt by Jacksonville Sunday. His instincts and awareness are on full display. Not often talked about, but one of the more reliable performers in an often forgot about portion of games.
The Patriots move to 3-0 on the year. New England continues what some fans have called the “Revenge Tour” or “F-You Tour” with the first fifty-plus point performance of the 2015 season.
The Pats had very little to gain in this contest. Many thought this would be a blowout and it was, but credit the team for handling their business and putting another “W” in the win column.
Now onto the bye week, the Patriots will take a week to rest and prepare for a long grind to end the season.
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