Tag Archives: Bryce Petty

Patriots  Week 17  Report Card, Patriots Down Jets 26-6

Steve Balestrieri
January 2, 2018 at 8:56 am ET

The Patriots took care of business, downing the Jets 26-6 as they should have and enter the playoffs as the #1 seed. Which means that as long as they keep winning, the AFC path to the Super Bowl goes thru Foxboro. Just as importantly, the Patriots appeared to come out of the game relatively unscathed physically, something that really important as their injury list looks like a starting lineup most weeks.

But the win wasn’t your garden variety Patriots victory, the team didn’t execute exceptionally well offensively and looked sluggish for most of the game. Of course, the number of missing players and the cold would have had plenty to do with that.

While it isn’t worthy of sounding the alarm bells, they’ll be the first to say, this isn’t the way they wanted to head into the bye week. Defensively, the team allowed just two field goals and as we all know, the Patriots won’t lose many games allowing just six points.

So, we’ll start with the offense and the players can come forward to pick up their grade sheets.

Quarterback: C

Tom Brady didn’t have a sharp game completing just 18 of 37 for just 190 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. His game was off and the communication with the wide receivers was off as well. He identified a mismatch and launched a ball where Brandin Cooks should have had an easy touchdown. But Cooks inexplicably stopped running. In the red zone, Brady threw to the corner and no one ran there and was flagged for intentional grounding.

Several of his passes were off the mark. He threw badly behind Danny Amendola and was nearly picked off on another. He had Cooks on a deep cross but overthrew it on what appeared to be a touchdown.

But his receivers dropped several passes as well, Brady was going to attempt to throw a block on a Jet Sweep and at the last moment, thought better or it and to be gracious, he at least got in the way.

Running Backs: A-

Once again there was no James White, no Rex Burkhead, and no Mike Gillislee. No problem. Dion Lewis, the little big man was the team’s workhorse logging 32 touches as he was the star of the game offensively getting 93 yards on the ground and another 40 thru the air. Lewis scored twice, one rushing, one receiving and continuously made yards after contact.

Lewis channeled his inner Le’Veon Bell on Sunday with several stops behind the line of scrimmage to allow his blockers to gain an edge. That’s someone who’s seeing the field well and his patience paid off.

Brandon Bolden had nine carries and averaged better than five yards per rush but was not good in pass protection, getting pushed back time and again. James Develin was his usual solid self, although Brady overthrew him badly on the first series of the game.

Wide Receivers: C
The wide receivers were targeted 25 times on Sunday and they were not great overall. But they made up by constantly drawing third-down penalties on the Jets secondary. We mentioned above, Cooks stopped on what would have been a deep post-touchdown route. He also dropped an easy quick screen. But he finished with 5 catches for 79 yards which included a nice 37-yard sluggo route where he and Brady hooked up nicely and drew a couple of defensive penalties including a 40+ yarder which would have been another touchdown. He caught a five-yard touchdown pass.

Danny Amendola was the cause for Cooks TD being so wide open. He ran a shallow cross and dragged his defender with him, causing two Jets (the other covering Cooks) to collide, leaving Cooks all alone in the end zone. But he too made an uncharacteristic mistake, misreading a hot route where Brady threw to air on the sideline and Amendola went out and up. But his quick pass on a Jets blitz was a classic Amendola nice catch and run for 12 yards and a first down.

Phillip Dorsett was wide open on a deep crossing pattern and misjudged the ball, diving for it when it wasn’t necessary and dropped it. But he made a nice sliding/diving catch across the middle.

Tight Ends: Incomplete

Rob Gronkowski officially played in this game but wasn’t targeted once in the passing game. Now the alarmists are hitting the panic buttons all over New England, “Oh my gawd, if the farkin’ Jets can take away Gronk, we’re one and done in the playoffs!” To quote Aaron Rodgers… R-E-L-A-X.

Not taking anything away from the Jets game plan, where they planned on doubling him all game, but Gronks absence in the passing game was completely by design…by the Patriots coaches. Brady didn’t look to him once…not once. They let him go out there and block a bit in the running game and he ran some routes to stay sharp, but they essentially bubble-wrapped him for the playoffs.

Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister each had one target in the passing game. “O” stands for zero

Offensive Line: B-

The offensive line’s play was a notch down from last week. They were only okay in the run blocking scheme this week. Lewis was hit too much at or behind the line of scrimmage, the Jets did a pretty good job of slowing things at the point of attack. Lewis by virtue of his elusiveness made more on his own than he should have.

The pass blocking wasn’t as crisp either. While we mentioned Bolden whiffing a few times on A-gap blitzes, it wasn’t all on him. The Jets for a team that struggled to get consistent pressure all season, had more than they should have against Brady.

Nate Solder and Cam Fleming didn’t have great days at tackle, allowing too many pressures coming off the edge.

Defensive Line: A-

It was a very good day for the Patriots defensive line. When was the last time that they stuffed Bilal Powell, who usually tortures them? Powell had 13 carries for 46 yards but 24 of them came on one play where Eric Lee got washed inside and Elandon Roberts took a bad angle. After that, Powell had 12 carries for 22 yards. Overall, the Jets carried 19 times for 40 yards which averages out to 2.1 yards per carry.

Malcom Brown had another very solid day inside, stuffing a few plays and being stout at the point of attack. Ditto for Lawrence Guy who has had a quietly solid season. Guy does the dirty work between the tackles and had a couple of run stuffs as well.

Eric Lee had a so-so day but got Bryce Petty for a sack and a safety in the fourth quarter.

Linebackers: B

Marquis Flowers was the main guy on the edge as although Kyle Van Noy returned to action, they only played him about 15 snaps, just to get the rust off. Flowers and Roberts were okay for the most part, but they both blew the coverage allowing a big gain to the tight end Sterling.

James Harrison made his debut and played between 25-30 snaps and looks far from done initially. He does a very good job of setting the edge and reacted well to a third-down pass underneath by tattooing Robby Anderson with a thunderous hit short of the sticks. That one fired up the other defensive players.

Late in the game, Matt Patricia let him get after Petty, early in the game he was on the field mainly in run support as he only had a few days of practice in which to acclimate to the Patriots defense. Once he did rush, he was impressive, getting two sacks and forcing a fumble. On his one sack, he showed a rip move that was pure power. A nice start for Harrison. If he can give them 25 or so plays like that every week, the coaches will be very happy.  

Secondary: B

Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore had kind of a bounce-back week. Kind of? Well, they were rarely targeted, as the Jets don’t have a prolific pass receiving core. They were most often seen in run support. But when your opponent, even if it is the Jets go 0-12 on third down, you’re doing well.

New York was targeting Jonathan Jones, who was beaten by ArDarius Stewart for a 46-yard bomb that was perfectly thrown by Petty. Devin McCourty was good but uncharacteristically missed an open field tackle. While Petty threw for 242 yards, the Jets scored six points and were (again) 0-12 on third down.

Special Teams: A+

Ryan Allen had easily his best game of the year. He put five punts inside the 20 and in the second half, he dropped three inside the five. Matthew Slater downed two of them. It was a fantastic day for him. The coverage units were fantastic as usual although the return game was only so-so.

Stephen Gostkowski’s kickoffs are something we regularly laud here and once again he was spot on. They were constantly pinning the Jets deep. The only downer was when Belichick (perhaps wisely) decided to punt rather than try a 52-yard field goal. Why? Because had he made it, Gostkowski would have led the league in scoring for the sixth time in his career. Currently, he’s in a three-way tie with five, the most ever

Coaches: B+

Bill Belichick was playing some Jedi mind tricks on the Jets psyche by placing some big thermometers right outside the Jets locker room to remind them how cold it was. While he was sending a subtle message to his team to ignore the elements by doing his normal walk-thru before the game in a t-shirt and shorts.

Belichick went against his normal self by winning the toss and taking the ball to start the game which proved smart. They went right down the field and scored before settling into the deep freeze for the majority of the game.

Josh McDaniels got creative with an offense missing several key players by calling a multitude of different things and they did enough to win.

Matt Patricia’s defense has made a remarkable turnaround despite also missing some key players for most of the season. Remember when fans were calling for his head after the first four games where the defense was being gashed? Now he’s being interviewed by numerous teams to be their head coach.

The Patriots allowed 128 points in their first four games. In their last 12, they’ve allowed 168. Think about that one…

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Patriots Earn Homefield Advantage In 26-6 Win Over the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
December 31, 2017 at 8:42 pm ET

The Patriots took care of business on Sunday and will be at home in the playoffs as long as they keep winning. But stifling the Jets on Sunday 26-6 in a frigid Gillette Stadium, they earned home-field advantage for the entire AFC playoffs. So the AFC’s road to the Super Bowl goes thru Gillette.

This is the seventh time that they’ve had home-field advantage in the Belichick era. In the previous six, they’ve made the Super Bowl five of those times. So there is plenty of room for optimism there.

On Sunday the offense was missing several of their players and Rob Gronkowski was nothing more than a big decoy. The Patriots didn’t target Gronk once in the game and finished the season with a Gronkowski smile-inducing 69 catches. Dion Lewis was not only the star of the game but the Patriots workhorse gaining 93 yards on the ground and another 40 thru the air.

This one won’t get many style points by the players and the coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. But defensively they gave up a pair of field goals and that was it, although Bryce Petty had a few good moments. Our other observations include:

It Was Not a Day To Be Outdoors: The field conditions for both teams was borderline miserable, the temps on the field were hovering between 10-12 with the wind chill making it below zero. Ball security was not a big issue for either team which was a plus for both teams.

It was the second coldest home game for the Patriots in the divisional playoff game with the Titans being the coldest. But it was the coldest regular season game ever at Gillette. So put the kettle on, it is a hot tea, cocoa, coffee kind of night.

Lewis Continues to Be the Focal Point: What a turn around since the midseason for Dion Lewis. The small in stature but big in moving the pile back had another really big game as he had a career-high 32 touches for the offense.

Lewis was doing his best Le’Veon Bell imitation as he was stopping behind the line of scrimmage and then bursting thru minuscule gaps to garner nice yardage after contact. Lewis’ confidence level has to be sky-high entering the playoffs and rightfully so.

Defense Held the Jets to 40 Yards Rushing: This was one of the better days for the Patriots run defense. Bilal Powell, fresh off a big day against the Chargers last week, had just 46 yards on 13 carries. Other Jets runners had six carries for minus six yards. The Jets running game averaged just 2.1 yards per carry.

Other than that one 24-yard run, the Jets running game had a grand total of 18 carries for 16 yards. Regardless of who you are playing, that is some pretty good run defense there.

Secondary Had a Decent Game As Well: Entering the game, a little-known fact was that the Patriots’ third-down defense had the fifth best opposing QB rating at just 80.3. (thanks to Remarkable for that). That number will surely get better as the Jets went 0-12 on third down Sunday.

Bryce Petty had some nice moments. His 46-yard bomb to ArDarius Stewart was a beauty, throwing perfectly in stride and gave Jonathan Jones in coverage no chance to make a play. He and reserve TE Neal Sterling had some good chemistry with Sterling had five catches for 74 yards.

Petty though, showed poor touch on several short throws. He finished 19-36 for 224 yards with no scores and no interceptions.

Belichick Breaks Trend wins Toss Elects to Receive: For the first time in quite a long time, the Patriots won the coin toss and elected to receive. It worked out well for the Patriots as they took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards in 13 plays for a 7-0 lead. That drive was their best of the game.

With a chance to put the Jets in a 14-0 hole on their second drive of the game, Brady had Brandin Cooks deep and he had a step in the coverage. But thinking the ball wasn’t going to him, he stopped running and the pass fell incomplete. It was that kind of day for the offense.  Cooks also had a drop but he hauled in five catches for 79 yards as well as drawing a 42-yard pass interference penalty. The Jets defense killed themselves with third-down penalties.

I understand the coach’s decision to not risk Gronkowski to injury but why have him out there at all if you’re not going to throw him the ball. Already missing a slew of skill position players, it put the offense behind the eight-ball further.

Brady Had Pedestrian Numbers on a So-So Day: Missing a plethora of weapons, and having Rob Gronkowski as only a decoy wasn’t conducive to Tom Brady having a big statistical day. But the offense overall had some communication breakdowns and a few bad throws. Brady ended the day with 18 completions on 37 attempts for just 190 yards with two touchdown passes.

This kind of regular-season finale will no doubt light a fire under Brady as they head off to a bye week and self-scouting. But getting Chris Hogan, Rex Burkhead and James White back as well as having Gronkowski a target again will no doubt help the matter.

Welcome to New England James Harrison: Early in the game, it looked like Belichick and Matt Patricia were using Harrison, who has only been in town a week in running situations as an outside linebacker as he’s not had much time to learn the defense.

But he played about 25 snaps and at the end of the game got to show what he can do in the pass rush department. Harrison notched two sacks and forced a fumble in what I’m sure the coaches hope of things to come.Especially if the Chiefs end up coming to town again.

Harrison had a couple of big hits on the field and didn’t look lost out there at all considering he only had a few practices this week. Early returns are promising, the next time they take the field, they’ll need that kind of performance.

Special Teams, Allen Standout: The coverage units, notably the punt coverage team had a fantastic day. Ryan Allen pinned the Jets inside the five-yard line three times, all in the second half, making Petty go the length of the field.

Stephen Gostkowski missed an opportunity to take the league lead in points for record sixth time. The Patriots lined up for a 52-yard field goal which if successful would have given him the record. But they took a timeout, and then punted.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon

Patriots – Jets Part II Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge

Steve Balestrieri
December 29, 2017 at 10:28 am ET

The New England Patriots finish off the 2017 regular season by taking on the New York Jets in Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium.

The teams have moved in different directions since the last time the teams met in Week 6. Both entered that game at 3-2 and since, the Patriots are 9-1 and are in line for the AFC’s top seed. The Jets are 2-8 since that matchup and are left looking for answers.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, December 31 at 1:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Tony Romo as the color analyst. Tracy Wolfson will work from the sidelines... The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (12-3) took care of business last week by defeating the Buffalo Bills 37-16. Dion Lewis rushed for a career-high 129 yards as the Patriots ground out nearly 200 yards on the ground. The defense held the Bills to just three field goals.

The Jets (5-10) lost to the Los Angeles Chargers 14-7 as they limp to the season’s finish line but still are playing hard for coach Todd Bowles. They’ve been in all of their games this season and looking to the future.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Jets are meeting for the 118th time. The Patriots hold a 62-54-1 edge overall. The Patriots are 33-25-1 all-time at home against the Jets. The Patriots have won the last three matchups and the past two wins by Gang Green have been in overtime. One of which was in 2015 with the famous “pushing rule” game which cost the Patriots home field advantage in the playoffs but wait, the Pats get all the calls right?

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Jets Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game has been steadily getting better as the season goes along and Dion Lewis has emerged as the Pats go-to back. Last week against the Bills, they were missing Rex Burkhead and James White, but Lewis and Mike Gillislee gashed the Buffalo defense for nearly 200 yards.

The Jets, like the Patriots, have had issues stopping the run and have allowed 116 yards per game. In the first matchup this season, New England ran for 125 yards. The key matchups will be how effective the Pats offensive line is at getting to the second level against a good linebacking core.

Lewis will be the main back again, however, with Burkhead on the shelf, Gillislee has missed practice time with a knee injury. If he’s unable to go, we may see more of Brandon Bolden this week.

Patriots WRs vs Jets Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game is still missing a ton of key players with Chris Hogan, White, and Burkhead out. But the good news is Malcolm Mitchell is back and is slated to play some this weekend. He’ll no doubt have some rust issues but his return is very good news for the passing offense. Matching up with Rob Gronkowski has to be the Jets priority on Sunday. I’d expect to see him doubled this week.

The Jets have done a good job of defending the pass this year allowing just 237 yards per game. They’ve only had two teams pass for 300 yards or more against them this year. Their improved secondary begins with the two rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye who have come in and played much better than anyone could have hoped this early in their careers.Their biggest weakness remains, rushing the QB and if they give Brady time, he should have a big day.

Gronkowski had a big game with two touchdowns in the last matchup and the Jets will have to find a way to slow down the big man. It will be up to the other players on the offense to make them pay if they decide to double Gronk. Brandin Cooks will have to step up this week and make the Jets force coverage toward him.

Next up the Jets offense:

Jets RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New York

The Jets have a very good running back in Bilal Powell and he is coming off a big game last week (145 yards) against the Chargers. Look for the Jets to test the edge of the Patriots defense which has been leaky for much of the season. Powell missed the first game and has usually played well against the Patriots.

The Patriots run defense has had major issues this season defending the run especially on the edge and they’ll be short inside with Alan Branch still out injured. But there are a couple of silver linings this week. Malcom Brown played arguably his best game of the season last week against the Bills and the Patriots just picked up James Harrison. The Steelers all-time sack leader is closer to the end of the road than the beginning but I think he’ll be looked to primarily help with setting the edge here. If he can do that, then his time here regardless of his pass rush ability, will be a success.
We don’t know how much he’ll play this week, but they’ll be a lot of eyes on him and we’ll be focusing on the running game first.  

Jets WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

Josh McCown is out for the season and the Jets now have Bryce Petty under center. He has some good weapons in the passing game, Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse outside, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Powell out of the backfield. The problem has been protection this season. Jets QBs have been sacked 43 times in 2017.

The Patriots pass defense has been light years better since the first Jets matchup where McCown threw for 350+ yards. The secondary didn’t have a good week against Buffalo last week and will be looking to enter the postseason on a high note.

Look for Matt Patricia to be a bit more aggressive this week with Petty under center than McCown. We’ll see some safety or corner blitzes and some A-Gap pressure as well.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ Special Teams are among the best in the NFL, they excel in punt and kick coverage and continuously turn in big plays.

The Jets STs units are a step below the Patriots and don’t have the edge anywhere here. But they showed last week that they’ll be aggressive, starting off the Chargers game with a successful onside kick. Expect them to empty the tank this week.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This key here from a Patriots perspective is getting off to a fast start. Game time temps are slated to be 10-15 degrees with a wind chill below zero. The Jets, although they’ve played hard all year are playing for nothing but pride. If New England gets off to a quick start, they may just want to fold up tents and get home to watch the ball drop in Times Square.

Turnovers are key here as well. The Jets don’t have a prolific scoring offense so ball control and not turning it over is key here.They can’t give the Jets any short fields and any momentum to pull off the upset.

Look for the Brady and the offense to keep it varied, mixing in the pass and run equally and the defense to get a couple of sacks as well as a turnover of their own…or two.  Pats finish the regular season 13-3. Patriots 34-13

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Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Film Review, Patriots Cruise In Big Win Over the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
December 27, 2016 at 8:36 am ET

All-22 Film Shows Mostly Good In Blowout Win

Reviewing the game film from Saturday’s win over the Jets would have even Bill Belichick scurrying for negative plays to hammer home teaching points. Of course, there were, however, for much of this game, the Patriots were rolling and executing their game plan very well.

The Jets? Well other than a few young players that are fighting for jobs and a couple of vets who played hard regardless of the score or their record, they checked out early. Todd Bowles probably wished he had stayed in the hospital where he was being treated for kidney and gallstones prior to the game.

The game plan this week was to finish, something they failed to do last year in the same situation with the Jets. With the #1 seed in the AFC on the line, they did exactly what they set out to do, and failed in the Meadowlands last year. And this time around they did it convincingly.

This one was a blowout by halftime with the Patriots up by 27 points. They would eventually win by 38. At halftime, the Patriots had more points than the Jets had net passing yards (26).

The offense was moving the ball and very efficient at scoring points. The defense was giving up very little in terms of yardage and no points until the score was 41-0 and then the Jets opted for a field goal, rather than go for a touchdown on fourth down deep in the Patriots end of the field.

Tom Brady was in control of this one from the opening drive and completed 17 of 27 for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Arguably, his best throw of the day ended up as a 47-yard penalty. His bomb to Malcolm Mitchell was right on the money and the rookie WR may have gone all the way, had he not been interfered with. Brady really completed his work by halftime going 13-21 for 171 with three scores in the first 30 minutes.

But we’ll start with one of his few mistakes on the day.

Incomplete Pass on Third Down: On the Patriots opening drive, Brady moved them right down the field where they faced a 3rd down and 7 from the Jets 11-yard line. The Patriots aligned with three receivers on the left side with the TE Bennett inline on the right. The Jets rushed three and dropped eight into coverage.

Chris Hogan ran a crossing route and was covered. Bennett ran a crossing route underneath and had coverage underneath and over the top. James White flared out of the backfield and was well covered. Malcolm Mitchell ran a slant, and was the primary target and had three Jets defenders blanketing him.

Julian Edelman lined up wide left, ran a fade into the back corner of the end zone and was uncovered. The Jets had blown the coverage, having all gone to Mitchell. Edelman waved his arms for the ball, but Brady missed him. Darrelle Revis recognized that Edelman was alone and rushed over to cover. Brady had to throw it away and settle for a chip shot field goal.

Bennett 5 Yard TD Pass: On the Patriots’ next drive, Brady would make sure they didn’t settle for three. On 3rd and goal from the 5-yard line, the Patriots had three wide receivers and the tight end, Bennett, lined up inline on the left.

At the snap, Brady was going to Bennett all the way. He faked going to the outside and ran a slant to the back of the end zone. His fake got him separation from strong safety Rontez Miles and ILB Darron Lee was slow to react.

Brady delivered the ball easily to Bennett, right on target and the Bennett leaped up and high-pointed the ball for a nice touchdown reception. That made the score 10-0 and the Patriots offense was rolling at this point.

Malcolm Butler Fumble recovery: Butler had a fantastic day with a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery. The Jets tried a running play with Khiry Robinson getting his first carry of the season. Robinson was lined up behind QB Bryce Petty in the backfield and moves forward to take the ball on what looked like a run behind the right tackle.

The Patriots are in good shape, the defensive line is stout at the point of attack and there’s nowhere for Robinson to go. But LB Elandon Roberts makes the big play here. He identifies the run and seeing an opening, flies up into the gap and collides with Robinson with a big collision. His helmet hits right on the ball which pops loose.

Butler comes up in run support and scoops up the fumble. Petty makes the tackle to stop a touchdown going the other way but in going to the ground, injured his left, non-throwing shoulder and was lost for the game.

Edelman 35-yard reception: Edelman had a couple of big receptions in this game, a 28-yarder where he and Brady worked in perfect concert together and this play which happened to be his longest reception of the season.

The Patriots are on their own 46-yard line facing a 2nd and 11 with just over four minutes to go in the half and leading 13-0.  They spread the field with one tight end, two wide receivers (Edelman and Mitchell) to the right and Dion Lewis split wide left, with fullback James Develin in the slot to the right.

The Jets blow the coverage and Edelman ends up isolated on a linebacker, Freddie Bishop. He runs a deep route and cuts to the outside where he’s ridiculously wide open. Brady’s pass was a bit short where he had to slow down and get it. But he still manages to grab it and add another 10 yards after the catch.

Lengel 18-yard Touchdown: Patriots backup tight end Matt Lengel got his first NFL catch and his first NFL touchdown on the same play. With just over two minutes remaining in the half, the Patriots are facing a 2nd and 8 at the 18-yard line of the Jets. They line up with two tight ends, two WRs and a running back, Dion Lewis.

Edelman comes in motion from right to left, Mitchell lined up wide right runs a crossing route short, across the middle. Lengel is aligned to the left and runs a deep post route. He gets position to the inside and although everyone was open on this one, Brady fires a nice pass where Lengel is the only player that can catch it. The touchdown put the Pats up 20-0.

James White 25-yard Touchdown: Right at the end of the half, the Jets made the curious and not-so-smart decision of calling timeout with 46 seconds remaining and the Patriots facing a 3rd down and four from the 19-yard line. Down 20-0, their offense had done nothing all half and they were seeing the Patriots were content to run out the clock. But they called the timeout and it would come back to haunt them.

Brady hit Julian Edelman for a nine-yard completion for the first down and the Pats called timeout. Then Brady uncorked a beauty deep down the middle to Mitchell who was gaining separation from two Jets defenders. Doug Middleton saved a touchdown (albeit briefly) by interfering with Mitchell that set up the Patriots with a first down at the Jets 25 with just 31 seconds left.

The Patriots go with three wide receivers, Bennett is in line left and stays in to block. White is in the backfield to Brady’s right. At the snap, the wide receivers clear out the defenders. White runs straight up the seam, and blows past linebacker David Harris and runs a route to the corner for the end zone.

Brady delivers the ball perfectly and White has an easy touchdown. That put the Patriots up 27-0 at the half and this one was already over.

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Patriots Maul Listless Jets 41-3, Observations

Steve Balestrieri
December 25, 2016 at 8:29 am ET

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.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Five Patriots Players To Watch Against the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
December 24, 2016 at 8:07 am ET

The Patriots return home for their last regular season home game of 2016. The next time fans see the Pats at Gillette will be the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

The Patriots are 12-2 and could clinch the top seed in the AFC today with a win coupled with either a Raiders loss or tie. The team remembers the late season swoon in the final two games, losses to both the Jets and Miami which cost them home-field advantage. They won’t be wanting that to happen again.

The Jets are 4-10 and playing out the string. The season has been a crushing disappointment for Todd Bowles crew. He was admitted to the hospital yesterday in New York with an undisclosed illness and may not be there on the sidelines later today. But they’d love nothing better than putting coal in the Patriots Christmas stocking again this year.

Here are our five players from a Patriots perspective to watch on Sunday:

QB Tom Brady: Brady popped up again on the injury report this week with a thigh injury. Although it is considered minor, anything to do with #12 will bear watching. Brady didn’t have big game numbers wise last week, but a lot of that was by design as the team opted to use a bigger approach to the running game.

This week, look for the offense to get back into their normal balance. And that begins with Brady. The Jets secondary has been suspect this season which the lack of pass rush hasn’t helped.

Look for Brady to try to get the passing game back in gear quickly today. They’ll want to get out to a quick start and to do so will require Brady to be sharp. With plenty of weapons that can be brought to bear, he’ll spread it around.

LB Dont’a Hightower: Hightower is also dealing with an injury, a knee issue that was clearly bothering him in Denver. But it is reported that he’ll play thru it again this week. Hightower is the Patriots main man in the middle of the defense. He’s the guy that cleans up the play after the defensive line slows down the run at the point of attack.

The Jets have been very successful lately at running Bilal Powell with Matt Forte hurting. Powell is a guy that has hurt the Patriots in the past and they’ll want him keeping the pressure off the inexperienced Bryce Petty at QB.

The Patriots will want to naturally put the ball in Petty’s hands and force him to beat them. And that means stopping the running game. Hightower will be a big part of the defense in that aspect. Going against a beat-up Jets offensive line, he’ll be a key player to watch especially if they decide to blitz him up the A-gap.

RB LeGarrette Blount: Blount wasn’t the focus of the Patriots running game last week in Denver, they opted for the smaller, quicker Dion Lewis to go against the Broncos defense. Although Lewis will again get a lot of reps today, look for the focus to be back again on the Pats’ big man on the ground.

With the focus on having the balance back in the offense this week, they’ll want to hammer the ball inside with Blount and keeping the Jets defense honest and keep them from blitzing on obvious passing situations.

Look for Blount to get upward of 20 carries today against the big, physical front of the Jets. And that should be a recipe for success, the more carries Blount gets, it means that the Patriots should be in control of this one.

CB Malcolm Butler: The Patriots secondary has had their issues with the Jets big wide receivers in the past. Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker (IR) and Quincy Enunwa have given them problems in the past. And their first line of defense will be deciding on who Butler covers.

Butler did an excellent job at limiting Emmanuel Sanders last week save for a few garbage time catches. The Jets still have Marshall and Enunwa and with Decker out, Robby Anderson has been a favorite target of Petty. In his last two games, he’s caught six passes for 99 yards and added four catches for 80 yards against the Dolphins.

It will be interesting to see who the Patriots turn their most attention to. But Butler has been their best corner all season and he’ll be the guy they trust the most, regardless if he has over the top safety help…right, Emmanuel?

WR Malcolm Mitchell: The wide receivers other than Julian Edelman were mainly used as decoys a week ago. Mitchell and Chris Hogan were tasked with pulling the Broncos corners away from where they intended to go. With so many weapons, it is a good problem to have. Now they’ll want to get all of them involved in the passing game again.

While Edelman will remain the primary target for Brady on most downs, Mitchell, as well as Hogan will be important players to watch in the passing offense today. The rookie wide receiver from Georgia has been a nice addition to the offense this year. He’s earned Brady’s trust and they know he can be counted upon in crunch time.

Against the Jets last month, Mitchell caught two touchdowns on passes from Brady. The second one, after the two-minute warning, gave the Patriots the win over the Jets. Both coincidentally were against Darrelle Revis. That won’t be forgotten by the Jets, especially Revis as they prepare for this week’s game.

For that reason alone, Mitchell would be a player to watch today, but with him becoming a more valuable role player in the offense, he’ll be looked to by Brady to provide some key catches at important parts of the game.

Stay tuned to PatsFans.com as we’ll have up-to-the-minute breaking news as well as post-game analysis.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Jets II Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 23, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots return to the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for their final regular season home game to take on the New York Jets. The game is scheduled for Saturday Christmas Eve, at 1 p.m.

CBS will televise this week’s game and it can be seen locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (12-2) improved to 7-0 on the road this season with a convincing 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos. Dion Lewis rushed for 95 yards and the Pats got three turnovers while holding the Broncos to just three points and shut them out for the final 53 minutes of the game.

The Jets (4-10) were hammered by Miami last week. Career backup Matt Moore threw for four touchdowns in the win. QB Bryce Petty was hit hard and had to leave the game but is expected to play this weekend.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Jets meet for the 116th time on Sunday in an intense rivalry that dates back to 1960. The Patriots hold a slight all-time 60-54-1 edge in the series that has been incredibly even and always tough.

The Patriots hold a 32-25-1 edge overall at home and have won 9 of the last 11 meetings. The Pats won a close 22-17 win in the Meadowlands in the first meeting this season as Tom Brady hit Malcolm Mitchell with the game-winning touchdown pass with less than two minutes to go. Mitchell had a pair of touchdowns in the game.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2016 Opponents, A Second Look at the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
December 22, 2016 at 6:49 am ET

Jets Are Beaten Up and Looking At Another House Cleaning

The Patriots return home for their final home of the 2016 regular season when they take on the New York Jets on Saturday. The Christmas Eve kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots (12-2), defeated the Broncos 16-3 in Denver as Dion Lewis led a Pats running game that controlled the clock and the tempo. He gained 95 yards on 18 carries. LeGarrette Blount scored his NFL leading 15th rushing touchdown and the defense forced as many turnovers as points allowed.

The Patriots win clinched the AFC East for the eighth year in a row, and the 14th in the last 16 seasons. They sit alone atop the AFC with the top seed ahead of Oakland by a game and two over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Jets (4-10), are just playing out the string this season. After barely missing the playoffs a year ago, there was much hope for a big season in 2016 but injuries, poor play at key positions and some questionable coaching decisions leave the Jets in a bad way with two games to go.

Here are our Second Five Impressions of the Jets:

Offensive Line is Decimated by Injury: The Jets left guard James Carpenter, who will start this week against the Patriots is the only remaining starter from the start of the 2016 season. The Patriots from 2015 feel your pain, but this year, it was the Jets bad luck to be hit hard by the injury bug.

In 2015, the Jets stayed healthy, remarkably so, with starters missing just 20 games due to injury. The Jets used only 60 players during the season, making Todd Bowles first year at head coach a smooth one. But 2016 has been a disaster, especially at the offensive line. Jets starters have missed 81 games this year and they’ve been forced to use 70 players, the most in the NFL.

The Jets offensive line was once one of the league’s best. Now, it is a collection of aging, beat-up players, well past their prime. LT Ryan Clady was brought in to solidify things this season. He landed on IR. Center Nick Mangold will miss his ninth game, RG Brian Winters was just placed on IR and RT Breno Giacomini will miss his 11th game and is on IR as well.

The probable starting unit on Saturday is very short on experience. ESPN’s Rich Cimini put out this startling tidbit this week. LT Ben Ijalana has 11 career starts, LG Carpenter has 69 and is the only opening day starter left. Center Wesley Johnson has seven, RG Dakota Dozier will be making his first career start and RT Brandon Shell will be making his second.

Maccagnan Needs to Clean House…Again: The Jets followed a path that many teams do when changing a head coach, as they did with the hiring of Bowles. They overpaid a bunch of veterans with the “win-now” approach attempting to re-ignite the fan base and put the new coach in a favorable position.

It backfired. The Jets are once again in salary cap hell and currently are already over the 2017 salary cap as it is currently projected. This is a defense that very much underachieved in 2016 and with an offensive line badly in need of an overhaul.

We mentioned the OL above as being beaten up. It is also showing its age and needing an influx of youth. Clady, 31 has played in just 27 of a possible 64 games in the past four years. Cutting him would save about $10 million in cap space. Center Nick Mangold is now 33 and cutting him would save $6.7 million. Breno Giacomini is 32 and cutting him would save the Jets $4.5 million. And that is just the offensive line.

The Jets secondary is looking at a number of hits too. It begins with Darrelle Revis, who is now picked on by opposing teams. Rather than shy away from “Revis Island”, opposing WRs are booking their stays there and piling up big stats. He’s maybe going to move to safety, but paying a safety $15.3 million? Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Gilchrist will be looked at as well for either renegotiation or being cut. DL Sheldon Richardson is another player that if they cut or trade can save the Jets $8 million.

The spending spree the Jets went on two years ago when they cut Rex Ryan loose didn’t pay dividends and will force them to go thru a ton of turnover in 2017.

Petty Should Be Back Under Center: After taking a scary looking hit in the Dolphins game, it looked like QB Bryce Petty’s audition for the 2017 starting job was going to be cut short. He took a tremendous hit in a sandwich by Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake last week and was forced to leave the game.

But he was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice and should be under center when the Jets visit Foxboro this weekend. If so, Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the backup. This year’s 2nd round draft pick Christian Hackenberg is said to still be nowhere close to NFL ready so in essence, the Jets really have no idea what they have in him.

Petty, who will wear a protective chest pad under his shoulder pads has had flashes of nice play intermingled with the expected poor decisions that plague QBs in the first year of starting. His completion percentage to his two big targets Quincy Enunwa and Brandon Marshall will have to improve. He’s completed just half of his throws to Enunwa and less than a third to Marshall.

Richardson Adds to Already Bad Situation on Snapchat: As if the Jets needed any other distractions. Jets’ safety Rontez Miles captured DL Sheldon Richardson on his phone doing a short video which he then posted on his Snapchat account.

“Snapchat takeover gang gang in this (expletive),” Richardson said on camera. “You know, pre-game (expletive). Where the hoes at, though.”

The final few seconds of the video are fuzzy at best, but Richardson appeared to say “(expletive) this game,” or “(expletive) this guy.”

Coach Todd Bowles wasn’t pleased and said he spoke with Richardson and that the situation was handled in house. Richardson appeared unfazed by the uproar, however. He was under fire earlier this season for another off-field incident when he was arrested in suburban St. Louis in 2015 for racing his Bentley, at times as high as 143mph with a 12-year old relative in the car while fleeing police.

Injuries Impacting Special Teams: The trickle-down effect to all the injuries that the Jets have suffered is that eventually, they make their way down to their special teams. And it is making its mark on the Jets kick return units.

The Jets kickoff return team has eight different players who weren’t even on the team or part of the 53-man roster at the beginning of the 2016 season. Where teams usually try to find a solid unit and work them into a smooth performing machine, that has been lost to the Jets this year.

This week’s game will bear close watching on the Special Teams’ units as with so many new and different faces, the Jets may be at a disadvantage here. Nothing can turn a game around so quickly as a big STs play. And although all of the Patriots – Jets games since the “Butt Fumble” game have been remarkably close, this one has the potential to be a lot less close.

Check back with us later in the week as we’ll break down the key matchups for the game right here on PatsFans.com.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.