AFC East Notes after NFL Week 3: Brandon Marshall’s dumb lateral leads to Jets loss
The New England Patriots rolled to a 34-point victory Sunday, dominating an overmatched Jacksonville squad. This felt like a homecoming football game scheduled to please the alumni for an SEC powerhouse as the Pats, who were favored by two touchdowns, scored on every possession with the exception of a game-ending kneel down. Tom Brady became just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to pass for 400 touchdowns, completing 79% of his passes on the day for 358 yards and two touchdown. The Pats were also successful on the ground, rushing for 125 yards with LeGarrette Blount reaching the end zone three times. Rob Gronkowski had 101 yards receiving, Julian Edelman caught eight passes for 85 yards, and Danny Amendola and Keshawn Martin both had touchdown receptions. The defense came through as well, most notably with a Devin McCourty interception in the first half that set up Brady’s 400th TD which put the Patriots up 20-3. Brady threw some nice deep passes; his passing yardage would have surpassed 400 yards if not for defensive pass interference penalties on Jacksonville. Early in the third quarter following the McCourty pick the Jaguars were flagged on consecutive plays for DPI: the first on a 52-yard post route to Aaron Dobson, and then Gronk was tackled in the end zone for another 24 yards. The next play was Brady’s 400th TD on a pass to Amendola; that all but made the final result official even though there were 24 minutes yet to play as it gave the Pats a 30-3 lead.
In other news the Patriots acquired linebacker Jonathan Bostic from Chicago in exchange for a 6th-round draft pick. Bostic was selected 50th overall in the 2013 draft out of the University of Florida. He was Chicago’s leading tackler in 2014, but a combination of injuries left him unavailable for offseason programs and the first three games. That apparently put him in new Chicago head coach John Fox’s doghouse, making the 24-year player available to the Patriots. Considering the potential upside, at this point the trade has to be considered a steal. Running back Travaris Cadet was released in order to make room on the roster for Bostic.
The Patriots also worked out six players this week, including running back Montee Ball. Ball was a second round draft pick in 2013 out of Wisconsin by Denver and averaged 4.7 yards per carry, totaling 704 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns as a rookie. The Broncos let Knowshon Moreno sign with Miami the following offseason, seemingly paving the way for Ball to become the starter. However, Ball struggled early in the season and after a loss at Seattle he was replaced by Ronnie Hillman as the starter. Two weeks later he suffered a groin injury and eventually landed on injured reserve; by the end of the year he was buried on the depth chart behind C.J. Anderson, Hillman and Juwan Thompson. While the Pats have a nice one-two punch at running back with LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis, Ball could be an interesting potential addition if he is fully healthy; the big caveat to that happening is how well he can perform on special teams though – as a backup running back that is a necessity on this team.
It’s unfortunate that the Patriots have a bye week so early, as they are clicking on all cylinders right now and appear to already be in mid-season form. New England leads the lead in total offense with 446 yards per game; that’s 32 more yards per game than the next closest team. Their 39.7 points per game is second only to Arizona (42.0), and their 359 passing yards per game is by far the best in the NFL also. The defense is chipping in as well; their five interceptions is third best in the league. After the bye the Patriots are on the road at Dallas and at Indianapolis (won’t that be interesting), followed by a three-game home stand against the Jets, Miami and Washington.
The Buffalo Bills did not suffer any letdown after their loss to the Patriots, as they traveled to south Florida and pummeled Miami, 41-14, to advance to 2-1. While three games is too soon to to reach a definitive conclusion, it appears that Buffalo has finally found a quarterback. Tyrod Taylor is completing 75% of his passes with seven touchdown passes to three interceptions, a passer rating of 116.1, and is also averaging 5.6 yards a carry. Taylor was able to stretch the defense with deep, accurate throws; against Miami he was 21-29 for 277 yards with three touchdowns, no picks, and no sacks. Tight end Charles Clay (5 catches for 82 yards and a TD at Miami) has been a nice pickup, and it is worth noting that the Bills were able to score those 41 points without LeSean McCoy. Once Buffalo got an early 14-0 lead, their defense took over. The Dolphins dropped back to pass 51 times, and more often than not the result favored the Bills: 23 incomplete passes, three interceptions and two sacks. Buffalo is now plus-five in turnovers, with eight takeaways after three games. Defensive end Jerry Hughes took advantage of facing a backup left tackle: Hughes harassed Ryan Tannehill all day, with six quarterback hurries and a hit. Linebacker Preston Brown had two interceptions, including a pick-six that blew the game open late in the second quarter. On a side note, in typical Rex Ryan fashion he made two former Miami players captains for the game: Clay, and guard Richie Incognito. Whatever works for you, I suppose.
The Bills meet the Patriots again on Monday night in week eleven, but between now and then they have for the most part a very manageable schedule. Next up is a home game against the Giants followed by a road game at Tennessee, and then the toughest part of this stretch: home against Cincinnati. After that they are at Jacksonville and then after a bye the Bills are home versus Miami, at the Jets (for a reunion we will all surely hear about), and then in Foxboro to face the Patriots on November 23.
The home opener for the Miami Dolphins went about as badly as could be imagined as they were humiliated by division rival Buffalo, 41-14. That was the worst loss for the Fins since 2010, when the Patriots beat them by the same score. The boo birds were out in full force as the team walked off at halftime, and for good reason. Miami’s first half offensive drives consisted of a three-and-out, five-and-out, five-and-out, one play and interception, six-and-out, six plays and a pick-six, five plays and another interception, and a kneeldown to end the half. The dream team defense wasn’t any better, allowing four first half scores, resulting in a 27-0 deficit at intermission. Off-season talk about winning the AFC East is a distant memory, with finger pointing now focusing on whether coach Joe Philbin should be fired, or if the front office is to blame for the team not living up to the hype. The absence of injured left tackle Branden Albert does not help matters, but Miami’s issues go much further. Maybe defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle will be the fall guy, but Philbin most certainly is in the hot seat. Next up for the Dolphins is another division “home” game as they host the Jets in London; after a bye that is followed by a game at Tennessee, home versus Houston – and then a tough three-game road trip starting with games at New England and Buffalo.
The New York Jets missed a golden opportunity as they lost at home in “a messy game” to a reeling Philadelphia Eagles team, 24-17. The Jets turned the ball over four times and were down 24-0 in the second quarter. While the defense did force Philly to punt nine times, they generated only one sack and only one turnover – after creating ten takeaways in their first two games. Getting down that far early forced them out of their comfort zone: the Jets ran the ball just 16 times while Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the ball 58 times. You are not going to win with Fitzpatrick dropping back to pass that often, and the final score was much closer than this game really was. The Jets punted on each of their first six possessions – five of those six were three-and-outs – fumbled the next time they had the ball (more on that in a moment), and then finally scored with six seconds left in the half after they were already down 24-0. In their defense, an already average at best offense was without wide receiver Eric Decker (sprained knee) and running back Chris Ivory (quadriceps), but the bottom line is that they were outplayed in all three phases of the game.
Back to that fumble: it’s something you have to see to believe. Brandon Marshall was being tackled, and inexplicably attempts to lateral the ball. The ball is recovered by Philadelphia, setting up a scoring drive that puts the Eagles up 24-0. Next up is a trip to London to face Miami, followed by a bye in week five.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Aaron Dobson AFC East Buffalo Bills Danny Amendola Devin McCourty Jonathan Bostic Julian Edelman LeGarrette Blount Miami Dolphins Montee Ball New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Rob Gronkowski Ryan Fitzpatrick Tom Brady Travaris Cadet Tyrod Taylor Week 3