Jets Are M.I.A. as the Pats Blow Out Gang Green
The Patriots dominated this game from the first series and unlike other games with the Jets, there was little drama in this one as New England rolled to a 41-3 blowout win.
With the victory, the Patriots stand at 13-2 with the best record overall in the AFC and hold a one-game lead over the Oakland Raiders. With either a win in Miami next week or a Raider loss or tie in Denver next week, the Patriots will have home-field advantage for the playoffs.
The Christmas Eve blowout win was Bill Belichick’s 200th win as a head coach with the Patriots. He joins just Curly Lambeau, George Halas, Tom Landry and Don Shula as the only coaches to win 200 games with one team. Coming against their hated rival Jets, it had to have been even sweeter.
Before hitting the All-22 coaches’ film, here are our grades for the week. We’ll start with the offense and the players can come forward to pick up their grade sheets.
Tom Brady was in total command from the first series until the end of the third quarter when he relinquished control to Jimmy Garoppolo with the game essentially over. Brady was cool in the pocket, spread the ball around and was delivering the ball was laser-like precision.
Brady finished the game 17-27 for 214 yards and three touchdowns that were all terrific throws especially the pass to Bennett in the back of the end zone. Brady spread the ball out to eight different receivers on the day, getting everyone involved, even some people the national television commentators didn’t even know.
His only bad play was missing a wide open Julian Edelman in the left corner of the end zone on the Patriots first series, resulting in a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. His best play was the spin move where he scrambled around in the pocket, bought some time, and found Julian Edelman deep down the field. CBS color analyst Dan Fouts said the play evoked memories of Fran Tarkenton…. Classic.
Jimmy Garoppolo even got in the act for the first time since the Miami game and played the entire fourth quarter. His best play? The victory formation kneel down. Is there any other better play in football?
Running Backs: B
LeGarrette Blount didn’t have a big day stats wise, gaining only 50 yards on the ground on 20 carries but his big contributions were on the scoreboard, pushing home two big rushing touchdowns to up his NFL-leading total to 17. The Patriots seem to be limiting his workload, already the highest of his NFL career, perhaps keeping him fresh for a deep playoff run.
Dion Lewis had another large amount of carries and seems to be fully back from where he was in 2015 in terms of his quickness and ability to make defenders miss. He carried the ball 16 times for 52 yards and added a catch for 5 more yards out of the backfield. While neither he nor Blount had great yards per carry average in this game, in terms of the overall picture, the offense was rolling and it is hard to find fault with anything they did on the day.
James White had just a single carry for 14 yards and three catches for 32 yards including a beauty of 25-yard touchdown reception from Brady. He beat LB David Harris in single coverage and Brady put the ball on the money for a score just before the half to blow the game wide open. He also had a drop where he had easily beaten the defender on third down and may have even added another scoring catch.
James Develin had a catch for no gain, but his value remains in his blocking and he was solid as usual in that regard.
Wide Receivers: B+
The Patriots got everyone involved and the good news was that they weren’t needed to put up huge numbers because they were so efficient in scoring as it was.
Julian Edelman had another big day catching five passes for 89 yards, including his longest of the season, a deep shot of 35-yards from Brady where he found an empty spot in the Jets zone and made them pay. With the additions of the other receivers in the offense this season, his impact is now felt with much fewer catches than before. Although he’s on pace for the second-most catches in his career, he has 90 in 2016, now Brady doesn’t have to force things to him.
Malcolm Mitchell had three catches for 29 yards but was responsible for the biggest play of the day, a 47-yard pass interference play just before the half. Mitchell blew by double coverage and Brady delivered the ball perfectly down the middle. The defender reached out and grabbed Mitchell’s left arm. Mitchell couldn’t pull it in one-handed where he probably scores, but the play set up James White’s touchdown on the next snap.
Chris Hogan just had a single catch on the day, a 22-yard play where he made a nice and difficult catch. Michael Floyd saw his first action in a Patriots uniform. Brady went to him early on a deep sideline pass, but led him a bit too far and it was out of bounds. He later caught a 6-yard pass from Garoppolo. I’d expect we’ll see more of him down the stretch into the playoffs.
Tight Ends: B+
Martellus Bennett only had two catches for 19 yards but his touchdown catch, a five-yarder from Brady was a highlight play for both players. Bennett ran a seam route and Brady delivered the ball perfectly, up high where only Bennett could catch it. And the big man did just that, getting both feet inbounds for a nice touchdown catch to put New England up 10-0.
Matt Lengel had the commentators in the studio reaching for their media guides. With Gronk on IR, Lengel is seeing more snaps. The big 6’7, 266-pound blocking tight end from Eastern Kentucky made his first catch of his NFL career and it was a big one. He ran a post from the 18-yard line and Brady delivered the ball perfectly just as he crossed into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown as well.
Offensive Line: A+
How do you top the game the offensive line had against Denver? By leading the way to a 41-point outburst against the Jets. The Jets have a solid group of big, physical defensive linemen and the task is never easy facing them.
But they were outstanding in giving Brady plenty of time to throw the ball and keeping the pocket clean. Marcus Cannon had another impressive day, the change he’s had this season with Dante Scarnecchia back in the fold can’t be overstated.
Brady had time to throw and the running game rolled for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns while the team put up 41 points. Scarnecchia has said the difference between this season and last year’s debacle was the continuity. It is hard to argue with that. The offensive line’s play has been improving every week.
Defensive Line: A
The Patriots defensive line has really been a strength all season long. Alan Branch has done a fantastic job of stuffing the run. He and Vincent Valentine did a good job of limiting the Jets at the point of attack. Although Gang Green ran for 111 yards, much of that has to be a tip of the hat to Bilal Powell who earned every one of his 60 yards.
Malcom Brown was benched until late in the game for reportedly being late for a meeting. But in lieu of him, Valentine filled in well.
Chris Long had a sack on the Jets first possession and Jabaal Sheard got credit for a half-sack as he and Branch buried Jets QB Bryce Petty on the Jets second possession. The edge rushers with Trey Flowers did a very good job of getting after the Jets’ QBs all day, creating pressure.
The Patriots had Dont’a Hightower inactive for the game as they rested his ailing knee and while his run-stuffing, veteran presence was definitely missed, the team had to be very pleased with the production they got from the other players on the day. The Pats linebackers were all over the field, making plays from sideline to sideline.
Elandon Roberts stepped up big with 11 tackles and his thunderous hit on RB Khiry Robinson in the backfield forced a fumble that was picked up by Malcolm Butler. Petty was injured on the play trying to make the tackle as was lost for the day.
Kyle Van Noy had another very solid day, he can help in run support, rush the passer and provide coverage in the secondary. He had seven tackles on the day. Shea McClellin also had a good day, providing some A-gap pressure up the middle.
The Patriots secondary had another very solid game and it begins with the play of Malcolm Butler. Butler had two interceptions, two passes defended and fumble recovery. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Belichick always says that pass defense consists of the pass rush going hand-in-hand with the coverage in the secondary. The Patriots allowed Jets receivers just eight catches and the NY wide receivers had just five. It should also be noted that the Jets three biggest pass plays, a 30-yarder to Quincy Enunwa, a 27-yard pass to Charone Peake and a 20-yard play to Devin Smith all came at garbage time late in the game with the Jets either trailing 41-0 or 41-3. That is more than half of their entire production for the game.
Eric Rowe had his first interception of the year, a nice leaping grab on a deep pass by Ryan Fitzpatrick where he got inside position and leaped high and was able to high-point the pass and come down with the pick. He’s becoming the team’s 2nd corner that they align on the opponent’s largest wide receiver and he’s playing very well.
Logan Ryan had a terrific play where he dove and broke up a third-down pass. He’s also playing very well right now out of the slot. The Patriots held the Jets Brandon Marshall to just two catches for 28 yards. Enunwa had the aforementioned single catch with just over two and half minutes to go in the game. Peake and Smith had single catches and the speedy Robby Anderson was kept off the score sheet.
Devin McCourty followed his big game in Denver with another outstanding effort with six tackles headlining the play of the safeties. All three, McCourty, Pat Chung, and Duron Harmon were excellent. They provided deep support in the passing game also helping in run support.
Forget about the drivel about the opponent that they’re facing. Their job is to take away the opponent’s ability to score points. The Jets had eight receptions, three interceptions and scored three points. That’s doing your job.
Special Teams: A
Saturday was a solid special teams’ performance. While there were no real splash plays, there weren’t any gaffes either and with the Patriots firmly in control in this one, that is just what the doctor ordered.
Stephen Gostkowski has rediscovered his groove and was perfect on five extra points as well as two field goals from just 29 and 22 yards respectively. His ‘mortar shot’ short kickoffs were spot on and allowed the coverage units to pin the Jets deep consistently. The Jets averaged just 14.3 yards per kick return on four kickoffs on the day.
Ryan Allen had another solid day with a 46.8-yard average despite the bad conditions early in the game. He put one punt inside the 20-yard line and his hang time allowed the punt coverage units to converge. New York had just two punt returns for seven yards.
Julian Edelman was back returning punts again, but the blowout conditions allowed for Cyrus Jones to get back in action. He cleanly fielded a punt and had a modest return of four yards, which is a win in itself.
Bill Belichick’s game plan to was to put the Jets on the fast track to Christmas vacation as early as possible and it worked to a tee. When your team wins by 38 points there isn’t a lot of areas to point at from a coaching standpoint to say that needed improvement.
Belichick’s best moment came when with the first half winding down. The Jets pinned the Patriots back to their own 13-yard line and the Pats seemed content to run out the clock up 20-0. Two runs by Lewis had them at 3rd and 4 at their 19-yard line. Todd Bowles foolishly decided to call timeout., even though the Jets offense had been non-existent to that point. Belichick then decided to go for the jugular.
A nine-yard pass to Edelman gave the Patriots the ball at the 28 where they called timeout. Brady then uncorked a deep ball to Mitchell that ended up being a 47-yard penalty that saved a deep touchdown. On Brady’s next snap he hit James White for a 25-yard touchdown pass that made it 27-0. The Pats went 87yards in five plays using about a minute of the clock. Game over.
Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia each had outstanding game plans where the offense was efficient while gaining just 325 net yards but putting up 41 points in the process. It is hard to find fault with any of that. Other than a few missed early opportunities, the offense could have easily put up 50 points.
Patricia’s defense, three points allowed, four turnovers generated….Nuff said.
We’re on to the Dolphins…
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2016 NFL Season 2016 Patriots season Bill Belichick Chris Hogan Danny Amendola Denver Broncos Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower Jabaal Sheard Jimmy Garoppolo Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Butler Martellus Bennett Matt Lengel New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Tom Brady Trey Flowers