The Patriots and Cam Newton finally were able to pull out a late-game comeback for a victory on Monday Night Football. Riding a dominant quarter where New England totally owned time of possession, Newton drove the Patriots down the field with less than a minute remaining where Nick Folk booted a 51-yard field goal as time expired and the Patriots beat the Jets 30-27.
That’s the good news, and … let’s face it, it was long overdue. They’ve had the previous potential late game-winning drives against Seattle, Denver, and Buffalo fall short. However, as we wrote last week even if they had pulled them all out and sat at 6-2 now, they are a deeply flawed team and aren’t going anywhere.
So now they sit at 3-5 and while the oft-repeated (and technically true) line is that their playoff hopes are still alive, that isn’t happening. Watching this team, they are no closer to making the playoffs than they are to securing the Trevor Lawrence pick (NE currently picks 11th), which fans were clamoring for all game long on social media.
After weeks of frustration, it was obvious that the players felt a huge sigh of relief to get off the schneid of losing. And they battled hard, overcoming a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to win the game at the gun. And we’ll get to the bright spots in just a moment, but the big caveat here is that this win was against the Jets.
Yes, the Jets are 0-9, and very much deservedly so. They’ve lost their previous 8 games with an average margin of 18 points. They are a mess and rank at or near the bottom in every conceivable offensive category. But with Sam Darnold out and backup QB Joe Flacco in, he shredded the Patriots secondary with far too much ease tonight.
Flacco is far removed from the guy who had a red-hot playoff run with the Ravens a few years ago. But tonight he turned the clocks back and completed 18-25 for 262 yards, with 3 TDs and one INT. For all the talk about needing weapons on offense, the play of the defense right now is a much, much bigger issue.
So, here are some observations scribbled down tonight as the game unfolded:
- Where is the Secondary? The depth in the secondary is supposed to be one of the team’s strengths. Without Stephon Gilmore for the second week in a row, CB J.C. Jackson was picked on and burned consistently as was fellow outside corner Jason McCourty. Jackson had an awful night allowing 4 catches for 97 yards with 2 TDs. He also committed defensive pass interference, which was ticky-tack. He was let off the hook a bit by a terrible decision by Flacco to uncork a deep ball into double coverage and picked it off. McCourty allowed four catches for 69 yards and a TD. He also was flagged for DPI.
- Front Seven Is Hurting and Needs Help: Although the Jets only ran for 65 yards on 18 carries (3.6-yard average), the run defense is still a huge red flag, and don’t forget they play Baltimore on Sunday night. Linebacker is a critical need. With Ja’Whaun Bentley out with an injury, the team activated Terez Hall off the practice squad and had him in the middle (Mike) linebacker role. So, rookies Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings barely saw the field. I counted only 10 snaps between them, but haven’t seen the official snap count yet. Chase Winovich did see extended playing time since the Jets opted to throw more tonight.
- Running Game “Struggled” For 159 Yards: For much of the night, the Jets were selling out to stop the run. And it was a slog for the running backs and Newton, who all had to grind out tough yards, especially after contact. Rex Burkhead (12 carries, 56 yards TD) and Damien Harris (14 carries, 71 yards) ran hard and were consistently getting tough yardage. Newton ran 10 times for just 16 yards but had two touchdowns. The Jets do have a solid run defense and with them bringing up help in the run defense, the Patriots having 159 total yards on the ground on 41 carries is a win. The running game helped the team completely dominate the time of possession in the second half for over 20 minutes.
- Cam Newton Had a Very Strong Game: With the exception of a deep ball where he overthrew a wide-open Damiere Byrd down the left sideline, Newton was accurate and was delivering the ball with authority. He had a few plays where he held the ball too long, waiting for someone to get open but overall, he looked very good and this time was able to finish. Newton completed his first 11 passes en route to a 27-35 for 274-yard performance. For the most part, Josh McDaniels kept things pretty conservative but Newton ran the offense well as the Patriots rolled up 433 yards of offense. His best pass was on the big 3rd and 20 where he zipped the ball to Jakobi Meyers for 19 setting up a 4th down conversion.
- Jakobi Meyers Shines: We know that the Jets secondary is a sieve, but tonight Meyers was giving their players and coaches fits. The offensively challenged Patriots relied heavily on the 2nd year WR from NC State. And he didn’t disappoint. Meyers was targeted 14 times and had 12 catches for 169 yards. Regardless of the opponent, that is impressive. Meyers consistently finds the open spots in coverage and has shown good hands. Byrd had 5 catches for 65.
- Offensive Line Goes Big: With only one tight end active (Ryan Izzo) and with him playing injured tonight, as well as being limited at WR, the team went to the heavier (21 personnel) packages with just 2 WRs and a FB, several times bringing in an extra offensive lineman because of the lack of TE bodies.
So, the team flight back from New York had to be a lot better than the one from Buffalo a week ago. But that won’t last long as they have to get right back to work on a short week and a Sunday Night matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.
There remains a lot of work to do, but patience (always in short supply in Boston) is the key here. The coaching staff has a lot of young players and how well they progress will have a lot to do with how this season eventually plays out.
Look for our report card later as we break down the game by position and then we’ll begin previewing the Ravens.
Posted Under: 2020 NFL Season
Tags: Bill Belichick Cam Newton Damien Harris James White Joe Flacco New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Rex Burkhead Stephon Gilmore