The Patriots came up with a big win on Sunday, improving to 3-0 on the season thanks to another solid defensive effort during their victory over the Jets at Gillette Stadium.
Here are some thoughts on the win.
1) New defensive coach Jerod Mayo has been terrific during three games and it’s clear that his addition to the staff has been a perfect fit. The players in his group have seemed to really respond to the former linebacker and it’s something that can’t be overlooked. Every single one of them collectively is playing with some high energy, swarming to the football and they’ve just been relentless through three games. It certainly seems like Mayo deserves some of the credit, especially when you take a look on the sidelines and see him interacting with the players.
Sunday saw New England’s defense completely shut the Jets down, holding them to 0-for-12 on third down along with 0-for-1 on fourth down while also holding them to just 105 total net yards. The Jets actually finished the game with just 6 first downs, 4 passing, 2 via penalty and zero rushing first downs.
They didn’t allow an offensive touchdown for a third-straight week and for the most part, they even kept the Jets from really crossing midfield for most of the game. Granted, the most recent two victories have come against both the Dolphins and Jets, two teams that will likely finish in the bottom part of not only the AFC East, but likely the league as well. However, good teams are supposed to beat up on inferior teams and the Patriots showed no mercy on Sunday. Save for the pick-six by rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham and the muffed punt by Gunner Olszewski that the Jets recovered in the end zone, New York never really put together any serious scoring threats.
What’s even more crazy is the fact they’re not even playing their best football yet and should only get better as the season progresses. If that’s the case, one can only imagine how much better they could be by the end of the year.
2) It was another frustrating outing for kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who had a tough start at the beginning of this one after missing an extra point on the team’s first touchdown.
That would be his only miscue of the afternoon, as he would hit his remaining kicks. Gostkowski admitted after the game that he’s just trying to get his “rhythm and timing” back and calls his issues a “work in progress”. For those who only see the missed kick on the surface, one thing to keep in mind is the fact that it’s also likely a matter of still getting comfortable with new holder Jake Bailey, who took over for the departed Ryan Allen.
After his initial miss, Gostkowski hit his next three extra points along with his lone field goal attempt, a 37-yarder. There are some calling for the team to make a change but given the state of kickers around the league, along with considering the context of the transition he’s dealing with, it’s still a little premature.
With plenty of football still yet to play, Gostkowski remains a player who deserves the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully, he’ll be able to settle in over the coming weeks as the Patriots appear poised for another run.
Meyers has quietly been a nice addition to the offense.
3) Antonio Brown’s departure may end up being a blessing in disguise since his absence Sunday allowed more playing time for Jakobi Meyers, who overall played pretty well.
Meyers caught two passes for 38-yards and ended up being a nice compliment for a group that saw Julian Edelman go down in the second quarter with an apparent chest injury. We learned later on after the game that Edelman actually suffered a rib injury and x-rays were negative, which was good news. Fortunately, having a speedy receiver like Meyers in the line-up kept the pressure on the Jets defense and he delivered.
The biggest question with Brown likely would have been his future beyond this year, with Meyers likely having been a player who might have suffered had Brown stayed with the team for the entire season. There’s no question that Brown’s athleticism and ability would have been a solid addition to the offense, but Meyers has shown enough early on where he could be a player who might prove valuable down the road in key moments behind guys like Edelman and Josh Gordon.
Needless to say, while losing Brown hurt them from a football standpoint, the bright side is his departure could end up making Meyers a better player by the end of the season. If that comes to fruition, that should be terrific news for an offense that has already scored 30+ points through three games.
Michel scored another touchdown on Sunday. (USA TODAY Images)
4) One of the biggest topics of discussion that will likely come up this week will be Sunday’s performance of Sony Michel, who had a difficult time getting any positive yards against the Jets. Michel carried 9 times for just 11-yards and scored a touchdown, but averaged a mere 1.2 yards-per-carry. However, one of the biggest things that stood out was the fact his production had more to do with the struggles with New England’s offensive line, which had difficulty all afternoon creating any holes for him to run through.
Injuries have obviously been the problem, with the team fairly banged up and going with newcomer Marshall Newhouse at left tackle, while Marcus Cannon gutted out Sunday’s game. Ted Karras also got the start at center.
The group did a serviceable job but it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a bit of a work in progress as they continue trying to deal with those issues. While Michel struggled, he was still part of the success Tom Brady had in the play-action part of their offense as they still did a good job of keeping New York off balance.
One would expect Michel’s production to improve as the offensive line settles in but it’s safe to say that there will be some criticizing the rookie this week. After a season with a pretty dominant group, it will be interesting to see how he adapts as the Patriots continue working out the kinks up front.
5) If Jarrett Stidham has any hope of being the long-term answer behind Tom Brady, Sunday’s game was a reminder that he obviously has his work cut out for him.
Stidham entered the game with just over eight minutes left to play with the team up 30-7 and things didn’t exactly go as planned. He completed a pass to Dorsett for 11-yards, but was dropped for a 7-yard sack on the next play and then two plays later was picked off after overthrowing Brandon Bolden and the ball landed right in Jamal Adams’ hands, who took off 61-yards the other way for the touchdown.
That saw Bill Belichick yank Stidham out of the game and reinsert Brady, who finished the contest.
It’s safe to say that will go down as a “teaching moment” for the rookie, who squandered what will likely be one of his few moments to see playing time this season. They say you can’t succeed until you suffer some adversity. Hopefully, this will be a moment he’ll look back at as a turning point in his development that will keep him from making a mistake like that down the road.
The Patriots will now spend this week getting ready for a trip to Buffalo as they’ll battle the unbeaten Bills next Sunday.