No Let-down This Year, Team Remains Focused
The Patriots left little doubt this time that there wasn’t going to be a late season swoon against the New York Jets like what happened in 2015. The Patriots dominated in all three phases of the game from the opening snap and demolished a beat up and demoralized Gang Green to the tune of 41-3.
The last time the Patriots won by 38 points was back in the 2014 AFC Championship Game when they throttled the hapless Colts in what became the Def … well, we aren’t going there.
The win was Bill Belichick’s 200th win as a head coach of the Patriots and only four other coaches have that many wins with one franchise. George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Tom Landry, and Don Shula. Some pretty heady company there. It was probably made a bit sweeter being against the Jets.
While every game since the Jets “Butt Fumble” game has been by one score, this one was never in doubt. The Jets barely showed up for the Miami game a week ago, where they were handled with ease. For the most part, other than a few young players looking to carve out a role, this team had already checked out and was ready for their spring vacation.
Coach Todd Bowles was in the hospital on Friday for a combination of kidney stones and gallstones. He was released from the hospital and flew up to meet the team in New England. He did coach from the sideline, but probably wished he stayed put in the hospital back in New York.
With young QB Bryce Petty at the helm, the Patriots decided they were coming after him and the results were startling. Petty was 0-3 with an interception and was sacked twice. He had trouble throwing in the downpour that the teams suffered early in the game. And he was injured trying to recover a fumble. Khiry Robinson on his first carry of the season was hit in the backfield by Elandon Roberts in a terrific collision. Roberts helmet popped the ball loose.
Malcolm Butler was in a position to scoop up the ball, Petty seeing he was too late, tried to tackle Butler and hurt his left, non-throwing shoulder as he bounced to the turf. It was a rough ending for Petty again as he was sandwiched between two Dolphins on a scary hit last week and forced to leave the game.
In came Ryan Fitzpatrick and he wasn’t the guy who seemed to be in control the last time the two teams met. Fitzy has nine lives; every time it seems he’s relegated to the bench and is done, he resurfaces. Yesterday wasn’t a good day for him.
Without the benefit of the All-22 film, which isn’t available yet, other observations include:
Brady very sharp and focused: After a so-so week in Denver, QB Tom Brady wanted to get the passing offense going quickly and he did. Brady was sharp and was getting a lot of time to throw from the pocket. And he continues to move extremely well in the pocket. He did a spin-o-rama like Aaron Rodgers and got away from pressure and scorched a laser to Edelman for a 28-yard gain.
He was getting all of his receivers involved and was picking the Jets apart. On the first series, the Patriots stalled in the red zone but on the third down incompletion, Brady missed Julian Edelman all alone and wide open in the back left corner of the end zone. But all three touchdowns were nice throws, to Bennett, to James White and Matt Lengel. A true MVP type performance
Overall, he had a fantastic day completing 17 of 27 for 214 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. So complete was the blowout, Brady was removed near the end of the third quarter and gave way to Jimmy Garoppolo, his first work since the Miami game.
Malcolm Butler gets Pro Bowl Snub, has a Fantastic Day: Butler the Patriots best cornerback had himself quite a day. One of our players to watch in the game, Butler turned in one of his best performances.
Butler had two interceptions and the recovered fumble and once again played some stellar defense. He’s not Revis in his prime, but he’s plenty good enough and the Patriots defensive system is a perfect fit for him.
Who Is to Blame Now For this Defensive Gem: After all the hand-wringing about the Patriots defense early in the season, they’ve made a remarkable turnaround. Now, every time they put forth a very good effort, the first thing out of the expert’s mouths are the weekly marginalizing of their work by denigrating the opponent. Matt Patricia has done a fantastic job of finding everyone a role and all of the players buying in.
Yes, we know the Jets offense is putrid and Fitzpatrick is on his way out the door. But you play the games on your schedule and if you’re going to line up at the Tobin Bridge when they give up 300 yards and 17 points, then given them credit when the give up three points and 130 yards. Jets QBs were 8-24 for just 128 net yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions. They were 1-11 on third down.
This defense resembles nothing of the unit that struggled so badly earlier in the season. They’re now the #1 scoring defense in the NFL and haven’t allowed a touchdown in two weeks. So talk all you want about the weak sisters….or “tomato cans” if you will. The bottom line: They’re doing their job. Haven’t we heard that before?
Bowles Timeout Call, A Bad, Bad, Decision: One of the craziest decisions, other than Chuck Pagano’s fake punt from 2015 was the Jets decision to call timeout with under two minutes to go in the half.
The Jets punted and put the Pats on their 13-yard line with a minute and a half to go. The Patriots were leading 20-0 and at that point, the Jets offense had done nothing. The Patriots, due to field position and the fact they’d receive the second half kickoff, were content to run out the clock. They ran Dion Lewis up the middle twice for six yards.
Inexplicably, Bowles called timeout. On 3rd and 4 from the 19 with 46 seconds to go. Brady delivered a nine-yard pass to Julian Edelman at the 28. Then the Patriots called timeout. On first down, Brady delivered a perfect bomb on a post route run by Malcolm Mitchell who had beat two Jets defenders. Doug Middleton tried to prevent a touchdown and grabbed Mitchell’s arm resulting in a 47-yard penalty.
On first down from the 25, Brady hit James White for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 31 ticks left in the half. The Patriots went 87 yards in a minute and six seconds. They went into the half up 27-0. Game, set, match.
Floyd, Lengel Get Into the Act: New Patriots wide receiver Michael Floyd saw his first action as a member of the Patriots on Saturday, getting a few snaps early and then some extensive work late in the game, trying to assimilate into the offense.
He made a nice catch on an early deep ball by Brady, but the throw led him just a bit too far and he made the catch out of bounds. He did make his first catch as a Patriots later in the game, a short six-yard catch from Jimmy Garoppolo.
Backup tight end Matt Lengel made his first NFL catch today on the Patriots fourth scoring drive. The 6’7, 265 blocking tight end was picked up off of the Bengals practice squad earlier this season. On a 2nd and 8 from the Jets 18-yard line, he ran a post. Brady looked elsewhere first but saw Lengel had a step on his coverage. He uncorked a fastball where Lengel hauled it in for the touchdown.
First NFL catch, first NFL touchdown from Tom Brady. The telling moment was watching Brady rush down the field to congratulate the big guy on his first catch and score. Tells a lot about this team. Lengel’s brother Mike took to Twitter and exclaimed, “My Brother Just caught a TD pass from Brady!”
Running backs are an Eclectic Lot: While the yards per rush wasn’t anything to write home about today, the Patriots once again showed patience in the running game and stuck with, rolling up 114 yards in the process. LeGarrette Blount is having a fantastic 2016 with 1110 yards and 17 touchdowns. The big man has been much better than anyone could have hoped for after suffering a serious hip injury in 2015.
James White is a dangerous back out of the backfield, (see his 25-yard touchdown), he may have had another. On a third down, Brady laid a perfect arcing pass in his hands, as he beat his coverage cleanly, but he dropped it. But Brady isn’t afraid to go right back to him. He’s also excellent in blitz pickup and is improving in that aspect weekly.
Dion Lewis is quickly rounding into form and is looking more and more like the elusive, shifty back we saw in the first half of the 2015 season. For his size, he’s a surprisingly good runner between the tackles and an excellent receiver as well out of the backfield.
The Patriots offense has plenty of weapons for Brady to use. The running back position, something a lot of people (including here) were picking on as not having done enough in the spring to improve has been fantastic.
Well, it is time for Santa to come down the chimney…I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas day with your families.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2016 NFL Season 2016 Patriots season Bill Belichick Bryce Petty Chris Hogan Danny Amendola Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower Jabaal Sheard Jimmy Garoppolo Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Butler Martellus Bennett New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Ryan Fitzpatrick Todd Bowles Tom Brady Trey Flowers