Turnovers Fall the Patriots Way in NJ
The Patriots controlled the game from start to finish and came away with a convincing three-score win. However, there were issues, that had they been playing a better opponent, things may have gone the other way.
So, while they won easily, they allowed the Jets to hang around for most of the afternoon. In other words, this was a typical Patriots-Jets game, they’re never pretty or score high on style points. The purpose is to get the “W” and move on, which is exactly what they did.
While the secondary shined (with Zach Wilson throwing the ball up for grabs), and you can’t be faulted for that, the run defense was gashed for 152 yards. And that was with the Jets having to air it out in the second half. The protection for Mac Jones, especially in the first half was poor. There is plenty to clean up before the Saints and Alvin Kamara come rollin’ in.
So, here are our positional grades this week for the Patriots-Dolphins game.
Mac Jones may be getting a bit of an easy pass here. He definitely had more rookie moments on Sunday than he did in Week 1. The Jets’ defense made life difficult for him, they had mostly solid coverage on the day and were bringing a lot of pressure on him, sacking him three times, all in the first half.
Jones had another bad intentional grounding penalty, held the ball too long on at least one of those sacks, and was (by design) dinking and dunking. While that protects the ball and limits turnovers, it also doesn’t allow the WRs and TEs to make any big plays because the defense is going to cheat forward to defend the screens and short, quick throws. But he was an effective game manager (oh no the dreaded system QB again), completing 22-30 for 186 yards with 0 TDs and 0 INTs.
Jones’ best throw of the day was the over-the-shoulder toss to Jakobi Meyers down the left sideline. It was a beauty. But the play calls were an abundance of screens and short tosses. But he did miss some open receivers and decide to throw short.
The running game was okay, gaining 101 yards on 24 carries which averages out to 4.2-yards per rushing attempt. But there often wasn’t a lot of room to run and the backs made the most of their opportunities.
Damien Harris led the team with 62 yards but his 26-yard touchdown run was one that will live on in highlight reels for the team for a long, long time. It seemed like every member of the Jets defense had a shot at him. He broke at least 5-6 tackles easily and even got an assist from Jones at the goal line.
It was the kind of bounceback that we and his RB Coach, Ivan Fears thought would happen on Sunday after his fumble last week cost the Patriots a chance to win the game.
James White is alive and well. He chipped in 4 carries for 20 yards, including a nice 7-yard touchdown of his own, and added 6 catches for 45 yards on six targets. We said that this one felt like a James White kind of day…and it was.
The wide receivers had a low output and quiet afternoon but this was not their fault. The play calling was an abundance of screens and short passes with few shots down the field. And there were open receivers down the field, Jones either missed them or chose to check down. He said as much after the game in his press conference.
Jakobi Meyers (4-38), Nelson Agholor (3-21), and Kendrick Bourne (2-10) didn’t produce much but the offense will be expected to open things up soon and allowing the WRs to push the ball down the field.
The tight ends likewise had a so-so output with Jonnu Smith (4-28), and Hunter Henry (2-42) combined for six catches for 70 yards. And each had good and not-so-good moments.
Henry had a big 32-yard catch down the seam and at the end of the first half had an even bigger play there for the taking. But Jones didn’t pull the trigger. Later in the game, he appeared to be open in the end zone but the throw didn’t happen. He didn’t run a good route and come back for a ball that was broken up. His blocking was sub-par for him in the running game.
Jonnu Smith had a dropped pass when it appeared that he and Jones weren’t on the same page. However, we’re starting to see what these two can do, they just need to be targeted, especially in the red zone more.
The offensive line had a rough go of it, especially in the first half…but it isn’t all on the right tackle position, although that needs to be fixed and find a solution while Trent Brown is out.
The pass protection improved in the second half but overall the group hasn’t performed up to the standards that they are capable of. The Jets’ stunts were giving the group trouble all game long.
The running game had 101 yards on the day which isn’t bad, but nearly half of that came on two plays. While we believe that they’re going to get it figured out, the coaches need to light a fire under the players as the tougher defensive teams on the schedule come calling.
The defensive line was tasked with keeping Zach Wilson in the pocket and stop him from making big plays with his legs. And they did that for the vast majority of the game and even notched a sack from the interior by Carl Davis. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the Jets subpar running game gashed them to the tune of 152 yards and a 4.9-yard average every time they ran the ball. That’s the bad news, they were consistently gashing the middle of the line.
Lawrence Guy, however, had a big run stuff on the goal line on a 3rd down short-yardage play that forced the Jets to kick a field goal. Christian Barmore continues to impress, but there remains a lot to clean up.
The linebackers were swarming and constantly around the football. One curious decision by the coaches was that Tashawn Bower was activated off the practice squad and got more snaps than either Josh Uche and Chase Winovich early in the game.
But Uche made a pair of sacks and Matthew Judon was consistently around the ball and chipped in with a sack and had what seemed like constant pressure in the backfield. He’s been very good the first two games of the season and has come as advertised.
While Ja’Whaun Bentley can be a liability in coverage, when he’s playing downhill he’s a playmaker. He had a pair of run stuffs, one where he slashed in and dropped Michael Carter for a loss. He hit Wilson as he was releasing the ball and it was intercepted.
Dont’a Hightower still appears a tick slow but that will come with time. It isn’t a concern…yet.
The Patriots’ secondary had four picks, so there really isn’t much of a leg to stand on to say it is anything other than a top grade. J.C. Jackson made a great play on the first pick going up high and tipping the pass slotted for Corey Davis and then hauling it in. Should Wilson have thrown it with so many blue jerseys there? Nope, but give Jackson his due.
The second pick was also slated for Davis but Adrian Phillips made a nice diving play hauling in the interception before it hit the ground. The interception by McCourty was a headscratcher, there weren’t any Jets anywhere near the pass. But he was in the position to make the play. Jackson’s second pick was another awful, short throw by Wilson, but Jackson recognized it and jumped the route picking off the ball.
After a big game in Carolina, (5-97), the Patriots held him to just two catches for 8 yards. Nuff said.
The kicking game saw a new Patriots record with Nick Folk now having made 32 field goals in a row dating back to last year, breaking the record by Stephen Gostkowski. He was 4-4 on FGs including a 49-yarder before halftime.
Apparently, the winds were swirling in the Meadowlands on Sunday and it pulled one of Folk’s extra point attempts wide. It may have played a hand in Jake Bailey’s kickoff that sailed out of bounds. But he was solid, averaging nearly 44 yards per punt, and put three of four inside the 20-yard line.
The coverage units gave up a 28-yard return to Braxton Berrios. The return units had only one single kick return of 18 yards by McCourty.
The Patriots’ game plan was to keep Wilson in the pocket and not allow him to make plays with his feet and then take away the deep passes, forcing him to either take small bites or make mistakes. He made them. He had four picked off and nearly had a fifth.
Offensively, the plan was to stay conservative and rely on the running backs (Harris and White) to make the game manageable for Mac Jones. They didn’t plan on the rush defense and the pass protection to be such issues.
We’re on to the Saints…
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