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Patriots Week 7 Report Card, 33-0 Shutout Win Over the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
October 23, 2019 at 7:32 am ET

 Patriots Improve to 7-0 In Impressive Defensive Showing

The Patriots put this one away early, jumping out to an early 17-0 lead in the first quarter and then never looked back as they cruised to a 33-0 blanking of the Jets. The defense was outstanding, allowing zero points, holding the Jets to just 154 yards total and just 2 of 11 on third down. 

The shorthanded offense was clicking early but had their issues later in the game, although it is hard to find fault after they put up 33 points. Most everyone, including the Jets, had this one as being much closer than the first meeting. It wasn’t. 

So, while it wasn’t perfect, it was plenty good enough. Check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s blowout win.

Quarterback: B

Tom Brady once again had so-so numbers, 31-45, 249 yards one TD, one INT. But his TD numbers could have been inflated if not for two near scores with James White and an obvious DPI on Trumaine Johnson when got beaten by Jakobi Meyers on a double move as well as a Michel drop where it looked like a score. Regardless, Brady ran the offense very smoothly, especially early, scoring on three of their first four possessions which put the game into the win column. 

He had a pick where he was hit as he threw and that was partially on him for holding the ball too long and an intentional grounding call. The microphones on ESPN picked him up yelling “He was right there!” Ah, no Tom he wasn’t. But he was also victimized by some drops. Overall, with a short-handed offense, he ran it very well. 

Running Backs: C

The running game remains an issue, and while we can point at the running backs, in reality, there is far too frequently nowhere for them to go. As a group, the backs averaged only 2.2 yards per carry. Sony Michel had only 42 yards on 19 carries but did have three touchdown runs. 

Damien Harris got his first carries as a Patriot and finally got some work in, which is a positive sign. Brandon Bolden and James White had very little production in the running game this week. With no fullback, LB Elandon Roberts filled in as a goalline blocker and used his downhill, thumping style to good use. 

Wide Receivers: B

Julian Edelman and James White (as we pointed out in our keys to the game) were the biggest pass receivers, each hauling in seven passes and filled in their roles well. White just missed a pair of TD receptions, getting knocked out of bounds at the one-yard line and scampering down the right sideline and just being taken down around the ankles. 

Jakobi Meyers is gaining the all-important trust factor with Brady, he had five catches for 47 yards including some nice grabs in traffic. While his snaps may see a downtick with the addition of Mohamed Sanu and the return of Josh Gordon and N’Keal Harry, he’s building his rapport with #12 and that will come in hand down the stretch.

Phillip Dorsett returned from his hamstring injury and had a really nice 23-yard TD where he dusted Johnson down the seam. Brandon Bolden had a beauty of a catch along the sideline. A pretty back-shoulder catch for 28-yards where he got his feet in like a top-flight wide receiver. Next week, maybe they’ll try him as a kicker…

Tight Ends: B

Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson combined for 100 snaps (Watson 62, Tomlinson 38) after not being on the team a week ago. Considering Tomlinson had to jet to Texas for the birth of his child and then zip back this week, was a testament to hard work. The Patriots early in the game went with the heavier two-TE look and it worked pretty well. 

Watson’s timing was off a bit early, he turned too late for the first pass from Brady and it bounced off his face mask but after that, he contributed in the passing game with three catches including a key fourth-down conversion (Trust factor). Tomlinson had a catch but provided decent in-line blocking but did have a holding penalty. 

Offensive Line: C

The offensive line did a good job of pass protection overall, Brady wasn’t sacked and hit just two or three times. But of course, much of that has to do with Brady himself. He was getting the ball out incredibly fast which has to frustrate the pass rushers who have no chance of getting home. Marshall Newhouse continues to struggle against pressure from the outside, however. 

The run blocking remains a hit or miss operation, mainly miss. We can all point the finger at Sony Michel and say he isn’t hitting the hole fast enough, but there frequently isn’t a hole to hit and he’s getting met in the backfield. 

With the game salted away in the fourth quarter, the Patriots attempted eight rushes. This is where they traditionally eat the clock up and go home happy. Those eight rushes netted 10 yards. That isn’t going to get it done. 

 Defensive Line: A-

The defensive line once again was outstanding. Le’Veon Bell had a decent game numbers-wise but was a total non-factor. He got most of them on his own. Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, Deatrich Wise, and Adam Butler were stuffing everything at the point of attack. And they created lanes for the pass rush to get home. 

On a day where the Patriots had just one sack, the pass rush was the difference here. As was picked up by ESPN microphones, Sam Darnold was “seeing ghosts” 

Linebackers: A

The Patriots linebackers are having an outstanding season, the depth and versatility in this group are the strength of the defense. Utilizing the “0-blitz” early in the game, they were rushing free and caused Darnold to throw interceptions and sail his throws off his back foot. 

John Simon came free on one and knocked the ball out of Darnold’s hands, which was scooped up by Kyle Van Noy who jumped up and rushed into the end zone. It was eventually blown dead as a Jet TE had bumped legs with Van Noy on the ground. 

Dont’a Hightower rocked Bell on one of the few screens the Jets attempted on a bone-jarring hit that put a bow on the evening. 

Secondary: A

The secondary continued their stellar play, no touchdowns, no points, only 86 yards passing and four interceptions. Robby Anderson who had a huge game against Dallas was rendered to a milk carton by Stephon Gilmore. Slot receiver Jamison Crowder had just four catches for 26 yards, blanketed by Jonathan Jones. The Jets only had four first downs passing. 

Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo utilized the “Cover 0” technique for much of the game, telling the Jets that they weren’t afraid of getting beaten deep. They weren’t. Before the game, Darnold told the NY media, that Jets offense was going to become unstoppable. Maybe soon but not on Monday Night. 

The only downside was the play of J.C. Jackson who was too grabby on Demaryius Thomas and was flagged three times. 

Special Teams: A

Mike Nugent had a clean game, one field goal and four extra points with no misses. A look at Jake Bailey’s 37.3 net average on Monday and you’d think he had a bad game. That would be wrong. He did have a shank early in the game, but his plus-50 punting was outstanding dropping four inside the 20-yard line including a beauty he dropped on the one which bounced out of bounds at the three. He skied a 59-yarder that should have been put in orbit, with over a five-second hang time.

The return game was good and they recovered a muffed punt by former Patriot Braxton Berrios. A great night for the STs

Coaches: A+

The Patriots coaching staff had extra time to prepare and it showed. The first quarter was complete domination for the Patriots in a game the Jets were hoping to show that they were on their way. They were, but not where they expected. Bill Belichick took Adam Gase to school and Josh McDaniels deserves high marks for scheming up an impressive start with a very banged up offense missing several key pieces.

The defensive coaches knew what they needed to do against Darnold and their players produced much better than anyone could have hoped for, and certainly better than most expected.   

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.

 

Patriots Boogeymen Bedevil, Whitewash the Jets 33-0

Steve Balestrieri
October 22, 2019 at 7:32 am ET

In the end, it wasn’t any more contested or closer than the first meeting. The Patriots’  defense flummoxed, frustrated, and dominated the Jets from the opening bell. They throttled the Jets in a 33-0 embarrassment in front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football.    

Just a week after Sam Darnold made a triumphant return from an illness and was the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Week, the Patriots had him literally “seeing ghosts” in the first half, forcing him into 5 turnovers. Darnold, who is one of the up and coming young quarterbacks in the NFL was left tonight looking silly and quite unprepared. 

But if Darnold was left seeing ghosts or Boogeymen in his sleep tonight, he didn’t have the worst game on the New York side. Head Coach Adam Gase was taken to the woodshed by Bill Belichick, his team looked completely unprepared and Gase made no adjustments that could be seen and left his young quarterback in far too long in a game that was decided in the first 30 minutes. 

The Patriots put a stamp on this one early. After receiving the opening kickoff, Tom Brady led a methodical, perfectly executed, time-consuming, soul-sucking drive that covered 14 plays and ate up nearly nine minutes of the first quarter. The much-ballyhooed return of MLB C.J. Mosley was nonexistent as Brady and the offense converted 3rd downs of 7, 10 and 5 yards before Sony Michel finished it off with a 3-yard touchdown on 3rd and 2. 

The Jets’ first possession took just two plays for the defense to force its first turnover of the night, one of six in total, five of which belonged to Darnold (four interceptions and a fumble). On 2nd and 8 from the 10-yard line, the Patriots overloaded a blitz on the right side and Darnold, under pressure lobbed the pass too high and it was easily picked off by Devin McCourty. 

What a difference a week makes. After Darnold picked apart the Cowboys, the confidence level was running high in New York. Darnold was talking about finding the weaknesses in the Patriots’ defense and exploiting them. He even added that once  TE Chris Herndon returns the Jets offense would be “unstoppable.” Not exactly bulletin board material, or overly cocky, but he and the Jets offense had no answers to what was to come. 

Gase, in another move that will be dissected for a long time to come, allowed his young quarterback to be mic’d up before the game, perhaps allowing himself the fleeting thought that after last week, this was to be the changing of the guard in the AFC East. Late in the first half, ESPN ran a clip of Darnold on the bench where he looked lost and admitted he was “seeing ghosts out there”. That clip, unfortunately, will follow him for a long time to come. 

What the Patriots did on defense was simple in its plan and yet brilliant in its execution. They blitzed the woeful Jets offensive line with the linebackers (Boogeymen) running free and forcing Darnold to throw off his back foot all game long. Or they would show the blitz and drop seven into coverage and give him nowhere to throw the ball. 

The Jets never adjusted, and never found an answer. While the Patriots only had one sack for 13-yards last night, the pass rush was the biggest factor for the defense. They had Darnold throwing off his back foot where the ball was continuously sailing on him. Darnold finished the game just 11 of 32 for 86 yards with four interceptions and a fumble. His passer rating for the game was just 3.6. He threw as many interceptions as the Jets were able to pass for first downs. They averaged just 2.7 yards per game.

Le’Veon Bell had a nice game with 15 carries for 70 yards including a couple of really nice runs where his patented patience allowed him to bust a few where it appeared he had nowhere to go. But in truth, he was a total non-factor. 

Robby Anderson, fresh off his big game against Dallas was once again relegated to a milk carton by Stephon Gilmore. Anderson had one catch for 10 yards while being targeted eight times. Gilmore had one of the Patriots’ interceptions. Demaryius Thomas who was chirping at the Patriots and Bill Belichick last week, made it sound like a big revenge game fell flat on his face. Targeted nine times, he had just three catches for 42 yards. 

If there was one downer on the defense, it had to be that cornerback J.C. Jackson was being singled out by the referees for flags. He was whistled for three penalties on the night.

But back to the offense. For all the hand-wringing the fans and much of the media are doing, they scored 31 points, (the defense scored two on a safety), and when the game was still in doubt, put 17 points on the board in the first quarter.

Was it a well-oiled machine? Hardly. But missing two key offensive linemen including the left tackle, two fullbacks who are key to the running game, both tight ends, their “X” wide receiver (Josh Gordon) and their most productive running back (Rex Burkhead), they did what they had to do. 

The Patriots’ two tight ends hadn’t played a snap this year but despite the lack of playing time and timing, both Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson played a significant amount of snaps. Jakobi Meyers is building his trust factor with Brady more every day and was targeted five times and had five catches for 47 yards. He also drew a pass interference penalty on Trumaine Johnson that would’ve been a touchdown. Johnson bit on a double move and had to grab him or get burned. The usual suspects, Julian Edelman and James White each had seven receptions. 

Tom Brady had a so-so night number wise but ran the offense efficiently and utilized everyone at his disposal, completing passes to eight different receivers. His two best throws were a nice 28-yard back-shoulder throw to supersub Brandon Bolden and a beautiful 26-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett who dusted Johnson in coverage.

Sony Michel had little running room, finishing with just 42 yards on 19 carries, but added three short touchdown runs. Edelman chipped in with a few jet sweeps. And linebacker Elandon Roberts, known for his downhill run-thumping style, was pressed into service as a blocking fullback for goalline and short-yardage. He did very well. 

So while the pundits will continue to decry about the Patriots opponents or lack thereof, they don’t care. They’ve enjoyed this one for a moment and are already moving on the Browns.  After that they will face the Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and the Chiefs. One at a time. Those games will ultimately define their season. But they are 4-0 in the division, including 3-0 in the division on the road, 4-0 on the road overall where they were just 3-5 last year. 

Sleep well Patriots fans, and even though Halloween is still 10 days away (nine since it is officially after midnight), but remember Boogeymen do exist. I think they’ll be haunting the dreams of Mr. Darnold for many nights to come.  

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Patriots Players To Watch, Week 7 MNF  Against the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
October 21, 2019 at 7:41 am ET

The Patriots are on the road again and are taking on the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. They’ve had some extra time off since their Thursday Night Football game but will the time off help them to prepare or will they lose a bit of their edge? They will be missing several members of the offense this week.

Here are our Patriots players to watch this week as they try to improve to 7-0 on the season against the Jets. 

Tom Brady: 

The Patriots, despite having the extra time off since last Thursday’s game are entering this game shorthanded and banged up on offense. That means more pressure on the QB to get it done with less. WR Josh Gordon, TEs Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, and RB Rex Burkhead are out, while WRs Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and Gunner Olszewski are all questionable. 

Brady will be operating with one healthy receiver (Jakobi Meyers) and two tight ends that have been on the team for a week (Eric Tomlinson and Ben Watson), although Watson spent all of the training camp here with New England.

Couple that with an offensive line that has been missing two players all season and things won’t be easy for the Patriots QB. He and Josh McDaniels are going to have to get creative this week. 

Jamie Collins:

The Patriots linebacker is enjoying arguably his finest season with the Patriots and is turning back the clock with the way he’s been playing. With the Jets getting Sam Darnold back last week, they got much more aggressive offensively, throwing on first down more and with Darnold’s mobility he can move in the pocket and make plays with his legs. 

Collins will be one of the players who will be very important for the Patriots to ensure that Darnold doesn’t get out of the pocket. With LT Kelvin Beachum out this week, Brandon Shell will be getting his first NFL start. The Patriots will no doubt want to test Shell and Collins, as well as Kyle Van Noy, will be line up on the right side of the defense to try to bring pressure on Darnold.

Collins had a monster game against the Jets a month ago, with 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB hits, and a pass defensed. The defense will be looking for him to have another big game this week against a much different offensive team.

Julian Edelman/James White:

We’re lumping these two together this week since they will no doubt be the two players that Brady will target the most and the Jets will put the onus on stopping. Edelman against Brian Poole is a mismatch and one that he’d win easily, but expect Poole to have some help this time around. I’d expect the Jets to use a linebacker or safety on occasion to double up Edelman and force Brady to beat them elsewhere. 

James White missed the first game due to the birth of his son, and Rex Burkhead had 17 touches (11 carries, six receptions) in his absence. I’d expect that White will have a similar workload this week. In the passing game, Sony Michel may see a few touches as well as Brandon Bolden but maybe it would a nice time to let 3rd-round pick Damien Harris get his feet wet. UDFA Jakobi Meyers is the only WR not on the injury report.

The Patriots are going to have to ride Edelman and White heavily, something the Jets coaches are well aware of. The adjustments made in-game will ultimately tell the tale here. 

Adam Butler:

Butler is playing more snaps than any Patriots defensive lineman thus far this season. That speaks volumes to his progression in Year 3, and his versatility in being able to adapt to different situations. It is his play, which is the reason that Michael Bennett’s snaps have decreased so rapidly, more than anything else. 

With Bennett suspended this week, more will be thrust on Butler’s plate. With the ever-dangerous Le’Veon Bell in the Jets backfield, the Patriots defensive linemen have to stop Bell from penetrating and allow the linebackers to clean up. They also have to push the pocket on Sam Darnold and create pressure from the inside. 

Butler has been very good at being a disruptive penetrator inside and this will be a big opportunity to shine. The Bennett news will have him thrust more into the spotlight. And with a national audience tonight, Butler has a chance to create even more playing time for himself with a big game against the Jets.  

Ben Watson: 

Watson will be playing in his first game with the Patriots since the 2009 playoff loss to the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. He spent all of training camp with the team and was a frequent side session participant with Tom Brady getting some 1-on-1 work. But with just a week of practice, his first since the end of camp, it isn’t known how much he’ll play. 

The Patriots need some production from the tight end position, something they’ve gotten very little from Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse who has been hurt most of the season. Especially, this week with the situation involving the injuries to the wide receivers, they need someone to step up.

Watson, despite being 38-years old, still runs well and looks like someone much younger. If he can stretch the seams of the defense, just a little bit and give them some production in the middle of the field, it will open things up for Edelman and White.     

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Check back with PatsFans.com for all of our pregame and post-game analysis. And if you’re a wiz at predicting the NFL slate straight up, register for our message board and then post your picks every week. We’ll see who is the top dog at the end of the season. That page can be found here: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

 

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

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Patriots – Jets Week 7 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
October 18, 2019 at 7:03 am ET

The Patriots head out to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. The Patriots are off their fourth 6-0 start in their history and are on pace for a record league-low in points allowed. With a win, they’ll improve to 7-0 for only the third time in team history.

This week’s game will be broadcast by ESPN and can be seen locally on WCVB Channel 5 on Monday, October 21 at 8:20 p.m.. Joe Tessitore will handle play-by-play duties with Booger McFarland as the color analyst. Lisa Salters 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 (6-0) beat the New York Giants 35-14 on Thursday Night Football where the STs and defense each scored in the victory. Tom Brady rushed for two touchdowns.

The Jets (1-4) came off of their bye week and beat the Dallas Cowboys 24-22. Sam Darnold returned after missing the past three games and threw for 338 yards.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 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 have been rivals since the earliest days of the old AFL. The Patriots lead the all-time series 66-54-1 including a 36-25-1 record at home and 30-29 on the road against the Jets. The two teams have met three times in the postseason with the Patriots holding a 2-1 edge there. 

The Patriots have swept the season series the past three years. The Patriots beat the Jets 30-14 a month ago in Foxboro, but that was with 3rd string QB (since released) Luke Falk at quarterback.

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 York Jets

The Patriots running game remains an iffy proposition, last week against the Giants they struggled to run the ball, especially in short yardage situations. Sony Michel has been mostly ineffective, where the play of the offensive line and the tight ends hasn’t been good enough. But Michel has been a tad slow at hitting the holes. Brandon Bolden was brought in for some short yardage situations and Brady had two QB sneaks on the goal line scoring a pair of touchdowns. 

The Jets run defense has been solid but not great. They are allowing 95.8 yards per game which is 13th in the league. Last week they kept Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott mainly in check until the very late stages of the game. If they get MLB C.J. Mosley back this week it willl be a huge boost to both the run and pass defenses. Rookie Quinnen Williams is living up to his 1st-round draft pedigree and has been very good against the run.  Rookie UDFA Kyle Phillips has been a steal and was outstanding against Dallas.

With the addition of former Jets TE Eric Tomlinson, he should help somewhat in the blocking game, if he’s active on Monday night. If Rex Burkhead is ready to go, he’ll provide a boost to the running game as well. Look for Josh McDaniels to try to scheme up some running plays for the offense. Those outside zone runs aren’t working.  Look for some inside running plays to see if they can get some needed yardage and open up play action.                     

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

The Patriots passing game is dealing with injuries to Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett as well as Rex Burkhead have been missing time. Rex Burkhead has missed the past two games.also. That leaves them painfully thin. Julian Edelman has been dealing with sore ribs he got in the Jets game last month. The Patriots are hoping to get Dorsett and Burkhead back for Monday night. That will go a long way in helping the offense get untracked. And with Ben Watson back in the fold, the Patriots have a TE that can threaten the seams and help open things up underneath. 

The Jets have a very good front seven, and with Mosley they are even better. But although they have a pair of outstanding safeties in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, their cornerbacks are a definite weakness. Former Patriot Darryl Roberts, Trumaine Johnson, and Brian Poole are the weak links of the Jets defense. They’ve allowed 262.0 yards per game, 21st in the league. Gregg Williams’ blitzing defense brings good pressure but they only have 7 sacks as a team. If the blitz is picked up then the corners won’t hold up.

Brady and the offense will have to attack the Jets’ pedestrian corners, notably Poole with Edelman in the slot. Edelman had seven catches for 62 yards and a touchdown when he was injured in the second quarter of the game a month ago. Look for the Patriots to use the 2 RB set (James White, Rex Burkhead) in the passing game. With no Gordon, the backs will have to take up some of the slack. Ben Watson too.

Next up the Jets offense:

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

It’s impossible to judge anything regarding the Jets offense from the first meeting when they were missing both Sam Darnold and Trevor Siemian when they arrived in Foxboro. But the running game of the Jets has struggled to run all season, even when Darnold was in the lineup. Le’Veon Bell is averaging just 3 yards per carry. With Darnold back, the Jets passing game figures to be much better, but they also need the running game and Bell to keep the offense from being one-dimensional. The Jets offensive line also (like New England) needs to do a better job.

The Patriots run defense has been solid this season and is allowing just 73.7 yards per game, good for third best in the league. The average allowed per carry of 4.1 yards is misleading. The one 65-yard run by Frank Gore raised the average per game by 10 yards. Without that run, the average would be 62.8 yards per game and 3.5 yards per rushing attempt. Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, and Adam Butler have been excellent at stopping the runs at the point of attack and allowing the linebackers to clean up and make plays. 

Having Darnold back in the fold will definitely help as he’ll force the defense to play it straight up and not allowing opponents to stack the box. This matchup will go a long way in deciding this game. If the Jets become one-dimensional and constantly are in 3rd and long situations, the Patriots defense will make life tough for them to move and score points. Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins are key here for the Pats.  

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

The Jets finally got their passing game untracked on Sunday as Sam Darnold threw for 338 yards while completing 23-32 passes with two TDs and an interception. He has Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder in the slot and Demaryius Thomas at wide receiver. They’re hoping to get TE Chris Herndon back for this one which will definitely open things up for them down the seam. Bell is always a threat out of the backfield. 

The Patriots pass defense has been simply outstanding in 2019, allowing just 161.0 yards per game, good for #2 in the NFL. They’ve already intercepted 14 passes and made 25 sacks. They made 30 all of 2018 and have nearly matched that less than halfway into the season. The secondary has been like glue while the linebackers have been tremendous in helping with the pass rush. One of the most impressive things has been the communication, they way they pass off responsibilities when recognizing a blitzing opportunity. 

Anderson will be going against Stephon Gilmore who held him to just 3 catches for 11 yards in the last meeting. But Anderson lit up the Cowboys, including a 92-yard touchdown, so his confidence is high with his starting QB back. Crowder should be matched up with Jonathan Jones in the slot while Thomas will draw either Jason McCourty or J.C. Jackson. All three should be great matchups to monitor. 

In the first meeting, the Patriots got five sacks and with the Jets, they’ll be minus their starting LT Kelvin Beachum, Brandon Shell will be getting his first NFL start. Look for the Patriots to test him early in this one. With Darnold back, the Jets threw on first down more than ran (17-9) and he used play-action very effectively  Overall, on first down, he was 13-15 for 202 yards and a TD. 

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots Mike Nugent seems to have the coaches’ confidence, last week he doinked a kick off the upright but the high winds were a huge factor in the kicking game. Jake Bailey has come on extremely well and his strong leg has been on display numerous times already The return game has been so-so at best with Gunner Olszewski but the coverage units and punt blocking teams have been outstanding.

The Jets Sam Ficken has settled down the kicking game. Lachlan Edwards has done a solid job of punting, and the Jets coverage units have been solid. However, Braxton Berrios hasn’t provided much in the return game.  

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

The Patriots are looking for a sweep of the Jets and of their divisional opponents on the road enroute to a 7-0 start. The Jets started off nightmarishly but confidence is high in the Meadowlands as they get their injured players back and their schedule does get markedly lighter after this week. They feel like they can with a second upset in a row go on a winning streak. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Defense Sets the Tone – Look for the Patriots defense to remain aggressive and challenge the Jets receivers. The secondary is playing tremendous and they’ll try to show different looks in trying to get Darnold to make a mistake. The key for the Patriots defense is to take away Le’Veon Bell, in both the running and passing game. If they can neutralize him, they have the secondary players to match up well. 

The pass rush will be an area to watch. Darnold has the ability to move in the pocket and throw on the move, unlike the previous matchup. They’ll attempt to test Shell on the left side and they’ll show him different looks as well. 

Edelman and the Running Backs in the Passing Game: Tom Brady passed for 306 yards on 28 of 42 passing in the first matchup with two touchdowns. Julian Edelman was giving the Jets fits until he was injured. With C.J. Mosley stating he’ll play on Monday, that should help the middle of the field immensely. But Poole is at a disadvantage against Edelman, it will be interesting to see if they give him help. 

James White, who missed the first matchup due to the birth of his son and Burkhead, if he’s able to go will see lots of reps. Expect to see a lot of the two-back “Pony” set where Brady will move them around to create mismatches. It will also help in keeping the Jets from blitzing at times. 

Play-action will be key here. If they can freeze the Jets linebackers ever so slightly, it will open up things more for Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and TE Ben Watson.

Get the Running Game Going: Easier said than done. The Patriots running game has been stuck in neutral for much of this season. But they need to scheme some things up to get it going with Sony Michel and Burkhead with a bit of James White and Brandon Bolden mixed in. 

The Jets run defense is solid and they’ll need an A-game from the offensive line. Michel is the key to get everything else going. If they are constantly in 3rd and long, it will be a long evening for the offense. 

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This should be a typical Patriots-Jets game in the Meadowlands, with the game tight right down to the very end. Points will be at a premium here for both teams but in the end the Patriots should be able to pull away thanks to the defense generating a turnover or two. The last thing the coaches want is to see the Jets get off to another start like they had last week. They’ll want to come out strong.  Patriots 23-13

The “Knocking on Sevens’ Door” tour heads back home next Sunday with a 4:25 p.m. game against the Cleveland Browns.

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 and breakdown game analysis

 

Patriots 2019 Opponents, Week 7, Jets Get Darnold, Optimism Back

Steve Balestrieri
October 16, 2019 at 8:30 am ET

The New York Jets won their first game of the season last Sunday in the Meadowlands over the Dallas Cowboys and there was optimism in the air. Not only did they get off the schneid, but they got their quarterback, Sam Darnold back on the field, which gave their offense a huge shot in the arm. 

All of a sudden, Adam Gase, who many fickle members of the NY press corps were calling for his head a week ago, now has, as they put it, has a chance to go on a run. As Yakov Smirnov would say, “What a country” only in New York. 

So, here are our second look at the Jets this season:

Darnold Didn’t Look Like He Missed a Beat:

Sam Darnold missed three games with mono and returned to play a very impressive game last Sunday against Dallas. The Jets offense was non-existent during his absence, however, in all fairness, his backup QB was injured early in Game 2 and they were forced to go with Luke Falk who was signed off their practice squad. 

Darnold showed no signs of rust and led the Jets to a big first-half lead which they parlayed into a 24-22 win over Dallas. Darnold finished the game 23-32 for 338 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. It was one of the best games in his young career. It was highlighted by an impressive 92-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson in the first half. He also hit Jamison Crowder six times for 98 yards. 

In the three games that he missed, the Jets offense scored one offensive touchdown. On Sunday, they scored three. Is it possible for just one player to transform an offense? It certainly appeared that way on Sunday. He had them moving the ball well all day long.

The Running Game Has Yet to Get Going: 

The Jets got Darnold back and the passing game was clicking for the first time this season with Anderson, Crowder and Demaryius Thomas all contributing last week. But now the focus will be getting the running game with Le’Veon Bell untracked. Bell was given a four-year deal worth $52.5 million dollars this spring, but has yet to break out.

Part of the reason has been with Falk at quarterback, opponents were stacking the box and basically daring the Jets to throw the ball. Which is why Bell has had 85 rushing attempts (16th in the NFL) but only 256 rushing yards. That is only 27th in the league with a long run of just 13 yards. The Jets as a team are averaging just 64 yards per game on the ground, 30th in the league. That will have to change.

They’re going to need a better push from their offensive linemen but with the team using more play-action on first down, that should definitely help matters. Even though left guard Kelechi Osemele is having shoulder surgery, his replacement Alex Morgan is playing well and may have supplanted the veteran.

Williams on the Trading Block? Possibly As the Deadline Approaches:

The jets have a decision looming with their excellent DT Leonard Williams. He’s in the last year of his rookie contract and the 25-year old is expected to draw significant interest…as well as significant money on the free-agent market. That is if the Jets allow him to hit free agency. 

But the Jets have other options, they can lock him up with a long-term contract extension now, or wait and re-sign him in the spring. But another option is out there and that is, they could trade Williams at r before the trade deadline.

There are reports out on social media that the Jets are receiving lots of offers for Williams, and rightfully so, he is an outstanding defensive lineman who frequently draws the double teams from opponents. The Jets have said that, right now, they have no plans to trade him. But with Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon and this season’s first-round pick Quinnen Williams on the roster, they could set themselves up with a deal at the trade deadline. 

Jets Could Get Mosley, Herndon Back for Monday Night: 

The Jets are hoping that LB C.J. Mosley and tight end Chris Herndon can return and play this week against the Patriots on Monday night. The Jets signed Mosley to a huge free-agent contract this spring and he was the QB of the defense and their unquestioned leader. It was no coincidence that before Mosley injured his groin in Week 1, the Jets were beating Buffalo 16-0. After he left, the Bills scored 17 unanswered points to pull out a victory. 

Coach Adam Gase said on Monday that Mosley’s been progressing well and they believe he’s ready to begin practice. If he can practice and play on Monday night, it will be a big boost for the Jets defense. The offense could also be getting a key player back on Monday in tight end Chris Herndon.

Gase also remarked that Herndon is progressing well from his hamstring injury that he suffered as he returned from his suspension and that the team was going to be smart with it and see how it responds. Herndon can give the Jets the ability to attack the seam more and be a bigger red-zone target than his replacement Ryan Griffin. 

Bucking the Trend, Jets Looking to Erase Frustration: 

In recent years the Patriots have owned the Jets in the head-to-head matchups winning the last seven in a row. And that number could have been much, much higher as the Jets pulled out two overtime victories in the Meadowlands including the 2013 game with the bogus “pushing” penalty on Chris Jones, gave the Jets a second chance, erasing a 56-yard miss with a 15-yard penalty, where Nick Folk made his 42-yarder for the win. That penalty hasn’t been heard from since…but New England gets all the calls, right?

This week, optimism is high in New Jersey as the Jets have refound their swagger on offense, their defense has been playing solid football and with their QB and other players coming back, they are hoping to catch the Patriots at just the right time. 

New England lost Dont’a Hightower, Pat Chung, Josh Gordon, Matt LaCosse, and Jakob Johnson to injuries last week. Johnson ended up on IR, while Gordon is not expected to play. If Chung especially, and Hightower can’t go, it puts the Patriots in a much more vulnerable position on Monday night. 

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 myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

 

Patriots Week 3 Report Card, 30-14 Win Over the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
September 24, 2019 at 7:30 am ET

 The Patriots returned home and had the most one-sided 30-14 win over the Jets on Sunday that you will probably ever see. The Pats led 30-0 and gave up two late scores, one on a muffed punt and the other on a pick-six by the Jets defense of rookie Jarrett Stidham. 

The offense started fast and scored 20 points before the Jets had time to catch their breath. After that, the Jets made adjustments and the going got much tougher. They held the Patriots to just 10 second-half points. 

Defensively, the Patriots held Gang Green to just 105 total yards with just 69 net yards passing. The Jets never came close to threatening to score offensively in this one. The defense held Le’Veon Bell to under 2 yards per carry and the Jets overall to just 36 yards rushing.  

The Patriots are the first team since the 1937  Bears to not allow a defensive touchdown in their first three games. They are the first team in the Super Bowl era to do so, however. 

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s close win.

Quarterback: B+

Tom Brady finished the day 28-42 for 306 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 103.4. New England fans are rushing out to buy customized Patriots #12 jerseys with Cliff on the back. Because if this is the cliff that we’ve heard so much about, let’s hope he continues for another 2-3 years falling like this. 

Brady protects his receivers from big hits by throwing those low passes over the middle that his guys can get to without being lit up. When they’re wide open, he adjusts his trajectory, as we saw with Phillip Dorsett and he went for an easy 25-yard touchdown. The little things… He wasn’t great on Sunday but he was very good

Running Backs: B-

The Patriots were minus James White (birth of his son), so they went with mainly Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel, with a little bit of Brandon Bolden mixed in early in the game. Jakob Johnson got in for the final kneel down at the end of the game. 

First the good, Burkhead had another very impressive game. He rushed for 47 yards on 11 carries (4.7 y.p.c.) and a touchdown. He was once again master of cutting against the grain and getting good yardage. He added 6 catches for 22 yards. 

Sony Michel continues to struggle to find any running room, he’s not making people miss but the bigger issue is that he’s consistently getting hit in the backfield. He had 9 carries for only 11 yards, one of which was a five-yard touchdown. 

Bolden got the start… and Brady went to him right away, catching the Jets off guard… as well as the fans too. .

Wide Receivers: A-

Phillip Dorsett was the recipient of many more snaps with AB out of the picture. And he made the most of them. He had six catches for 53 yards including the 25-yard TD. The one incompletion thrown in his direction looked like a catch from the cheap seats. 

Josh Gordon had 6 catches for 83 yards including two highlight-reel plays. Facing a 3rd and 22, Brady uncorked a beautiful back-shoulder throw that Gordon high pointed and brought it down before tumbling out of bounds. Later he caught a deep seam pass where he used his height to haul it in. 

Julian Edelman had seven catches for 62 yards and a touchdown before leaving with an injury in the second quarter. Jakobi Meyers had two catches for 38. Brady’s top three targets had 19 catches for 198 yards on the day. Good day.

Tight Ends: C+

Matt LaCosse was inactive and Ryan Izzo had one big catch for 41 yards. His blocking looks okay in the run game but could be a lot better.  He was getting pushed around at times and his strong suit is blocking. Jakob Johnson lined up as a blocker for the final snap of the game. 

Offensive Line: B-

The offensive line got Marcus Cannon back at right tackle. That was a big bonus, especially with the big game against the undefeated Bills looming next week.  Their protection of Brady was very good, for the most part he had plenty of time to throw and Stidham, not Brady was sacked only once. 

The run blocking was not great, however, and while the Jets are a very good team at defending the run, the Patriots could only muster 68 yards rushing. That stat must improve down the line. After rewatching the game tape there were too many times during the game that the Jets were pushing the New England offensive line back 1-2 yards off the ball. And not just at tackle but the interior guys as well. Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney were included in that. 

Marshall Newhouse is still finding his feet here in Foxboro. Dante Scarnecchia will work on his fundamentals in the coming weeks. Overall he was okay but tends to lunge a bit, that comes from not having his hands and feet in sync. Coach Scar will fix that. 

Defensive Line: A

The defensive line was once again outstanding. Coming into this game, we knew that because the Jets offense was short-handed, that they’d lean on the outstanding Le’Veon Bell. And of course, the Patriots knew that too. The defensive line was great at standing up the Jets offensive line and allowing the linebackers to clean up.

Danny Shelton was excellent continuing his very solid start to the season. The Jets could only manage 36 yards on the ground on 20 carries. The front seven brought excellent pressure on QB Luke Falk sacking him five times, with 10 QB hits and 10 tackles for a loss. Michael Bennett, Chase Winovich and Adam Butler were all very solid. The very underrated John Simon added 1.5 sacks. 

Linebackers: A+

The Patriots linebackers are off to an amazing start this season. They are flying all over the field, never out of position [Belichick may disagree], and making plays everywhere. No one is a better example of that than Jamie Collins.   

Collins had seven tackles including 3.5 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits and a pass defensed. He was the Jets biggest pain in the backside as he was seemingly everywhere. Dont’a Hightower prior to injuring his shoulder was solid. He and Elandon Roberts each had .5 sack. 

The Patriots brought pressure on Falk early using what they call the “Casino” blitz, rushing six and then later showing it and dropping eight into coverage. It was too much for a young QB to decipher in his first game.

Kyle Van Noy, who after the game credited the defense as a whole for having great communication, had 1.5 sacks. See the trend here? There is no one “sack master”, it is a group effort. And this group is playing lights out.

Secondary: A

The secondary bottled up the Jets WRs and shut them down. Stephon Gilmore wrapped himself around Robby Anderson and basically put him on a milk carton. Ditto for Jonathan Jones covering Jamison Crowder. The Jets two top WRs had five receptions for 36 yards combined… ouch. Jason McCourty is off to a great start for 2019. 

Pat Chung and Devin McCourty are playing some of the best football of their respective careers. Bell had four catches for 28 yards in the passing game. The Jets were 0-12 on third down and had just 98 yards [69 net] passing. Incredible start in the first three games for the defense. 

Special Teams: B-

Stephen Gostkowski had another rough start missing his first extra point. After that, he hit three in a row and a field goal. Gunner Olszewski.muffed a punt which resulted in a Jets TD. That, as he pointed out after the game is unacceptable. But he came right back out, fielded the next one cleanly and returned it for 11 yards.  

Jake Bailey punted seven times for a 44.3-yard average, placing five inside the 20-yard line. Matthew Slater had an outstanding play where he chased down a punt that seemed destined for the end zone and knocked it back where it was downed on the one-yard line. 

Coaches: A

The Patriots coaching clearly were two steps ahead of Adam Gase and his staff on Sunday. By the time Gase and his defensive coordinator adjusted, the Patriots were up by three touchdowns and this one was “ovah Mike!”

Bill Belichick will pick the team apart during their Monday film session as several players noted on Sunday, but they were much better prepared than the Jets and totally dominated this one from start to finish, especially on the defensive side of the ball. 

We’re on to Buffalo. The “Knockin’ on Seven’s Door” 2019 tour continues. 

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Patriots Players To Watch, Week 3 Against the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
September 20, 2019 at 8:00 am ET

The Patriots return home to face a New York Jets team that has been bitten badly by the injury bug. Here we are in Week 3 and the Jets are already on their third starting QB due to illness/injury. They are also banged up at other positions. The Patriots meanwhile are pretty healthy with the difference being on their offensive line. Both tackles Isaiah Wynn [IR] and Marcus Cannon are expected to miss this game. 

These divisional matchups with the Jets whether here in Gillette or in the Meadowlands are always intriguing and must-watch television, regardless of records. This week will be no different as the two teams face off for the first of two meetings. The second, in New Jersey, will be on October 21. Expect a loud and raucous crowd this week.

Here are our Patriots players to watch this week down in Gillette Stadium as the Patriots look to improve to 3-0 this week. 

Antonio Brown: 

Much of what we originally were looking for concerned on the field questions. Now, in light of more of the off-field drama concerning him and text messages supposedly sent to one of his accusers, it is now a question of whether he’ll even play or not. 

[From earlier on Thursday], Brown had good production last week in Miami with four receptions for 56 yards including a 20-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady, considering he was only on the team for three days of prep. There were obviously some areas where he and Brady didn’t have their timing or chemistry down which is understandable at this early juncture. 

Now with another week here in the system, we want to see how far their timing has come along and what the Patriots have in mind on how to use him. Bill Belichick has intimated during his presser earlier this week, they were putting in plays to take advantage of his strengths.

Chase Winovich:

The Patriots rookie isn’t considered a starter per se, but his playing time in the early going warrants his inclusion here. He’s such an intriguing guy as well as a player and his motor which runs firewalled on every play makes your eye watch him whenever he’s on the field.

He had 1.5 sacks down in Miami and the QB for the Jets Luke Falk isn’t particularly known as a mobile guy. The Jets have had issues with pass protection and it will be interesting to see if Jerod Mayo and Belichick put Winovich in a position to make some splash plays this weekend. 

Winovich has shown the veteran-like ability to temper his instinctive aggressive play and play within the system or as Belichick likes to say “Do Your Job”. As the season wears on, we expect bigger and better things from him. And a matchup with the rival Jets is a great area to start.

Marshall Newhouse:

Who? Do you ask? Many fans might not know his name yet but with Isaiah Wynn out the team will turn to the 10-year veteran to protect the franchise’s [read Brady’s] blindside. He had an even performance, albeit on a short week of preparation in Miami but now he’s had a chance to get up to speed and will be working with the master of offensive line play Dante Scarnecchia. 

Scarnecchia is a stickler for his players being fundamentally strong and despite the rash of injuries along the offensive line, we never worry too much about the line because Coach Scar always seems to get it figured out. Even still, we’ll be watching Newhouse on Sunday as the Jets like to bring overload blitzes and create pressure rushing just four with a variety of techniques. Protect #12 and the Patriots generally win. 

Stephon Gilmore:

Gilmore’s name was thrust in the limelight this week when Jalen Ramsey, who demanded a trade from the Jaguars said in a social media post that there is no doubt who is the best cornerback in the league. Of course, Patriots fans responded with “he plays in Foxboro” which created an entirely different conversation…ugh.

However, Gilmore, who is among the quietest and soft-spoken of corners in the league, certainly doesn’t lack for confidence. But he doesn’t feel the need to beat his chest like so many of the others often do. 

We look for him to be covering the Jets Robby Anderson this week and Gilmore has no doubt heard the chatter. We look for him to have a big game this week, where you may not his name called once.

Julian Edelman: 

Edelman has been the go-to guy for Tom Brady for a number of years including three Super Bowl wins. Now with the Antonio Brown signing, Edelman isn’t getting much chatter surrounding his game, which is still outstanding in the short/intermediate area.  

Don’t think for a second that Edelman is unaware of it. Not to say that there are any hard feelings between him, Brown, or Brady.  There’s not. But coming home to Foxboro with everyone talking about AB this and AB that [including here], it is bound to stoke the already considerable competitive fire.

Edelman is virtually impossible to stop in the short area when he works out of the slot. We look for him to have a very big game and be heavily involved in the passing game this week.  

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

Patriots – Jets Week 3 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
September 19, 2019 at 7:30 am ET

The Patriots return home this Sunday to take on the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. This is the first of two meetings between the two teams, and the rivals will play again in the Meadowlands on Oct. 21 on Monday Night Football.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, September 22 at 1:00 p.m. and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Kevin Harlan will handle play-by-play duties with Rich Gannon as the color analyst. Dana Jacobson 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 (2-0) trounced the Miami Dolphins 43-0 where the defense forced four interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns. Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.

The Jets (0-2) lost at home 23-3 to the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football. With QB Sam Darnold, already sidelined for at least a month with an illness, backup QB Trevor Siemian got the start before he too was injured and lost for the year. Luke Falk finished up the game and will get the start this week. 

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 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 have been rivals since the earliest days of the old AFL. The Patriots lead the all-time series 65-54-1 including a 35-25-1 record at home against the Jets. The two teams have met three times in the postseason with the Patriots holding a 2-1 edge there. 

The Patriots have swept the season series the past three years. Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, the Patriots are 14-3 against the Jets at home.

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 York Jets

The Patriots running game still hasn’t gotten untracked yet, which definitely has something to do with the injuries along the offensive line. With the starting center on IR and both tackles out last week, they still managed to run for 126 yards. 

Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and James White are an impressive trio, especially with James Develin opening holes for them. But the offensive line’s play in the running game has been inconsistent. 

The Jets are stout upfront with nose tackle Steve McLendon and interior linemen Leonard Williams and Henry Anderson. Rookie first-rounder Quinnen Williams has been banged up but may be back for this one. Ditto for LBs Jordan Jenkins and C.J. Mosley. 

During MNF the Jets defense stifled the Browns running game holding them to just 70 yards on the ground. They are allowing only 99 yards per game so far in 2019.

With several new faces on the Patriots offensive line, the slogging may find itself to be tough for the Patriots backs to find traction early. However, if the Jets offense continues to struggle and leave their defense on the field for a large portion of the game, then this could change. But this is one time when the Jets front seven handles the Patriots running game and wins the matchup                     

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

The Patriots passing game got a boost with the addition of Antonio Brown last week and his production after only three days of practice was good, 4 receptions 56 yards and a touchdown. Brown along with Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, as well as backs White and Burkhead out of the backfield gives Tom Brady a plethora of weapons.

The only thing that can hold back this unit is the offensive line. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn was placed on IR with turf toe, while right tackle Marcus Cannon missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury. So will it be Marshall Newhouse and Korey Cunningham at tackle or will they move Joe Thuney to tackle then after fill in another new body at the guard position? Dante Scarnecchia will have the boys working overtime this week.

The Jets, when everyone is healthy, have a very good front seven. They have Leonard and Quinnen Williams inside and can push the pocket. But the secondary, especially the corners are not going to shut anyone down for long. Former Patriot Darryl Roberts mans one side while Trumaine Johnson who was paid a big-money contract just a year ago was manning the other. Johnson was benched for poor play and in his stead came Nate Hairston and Brian Poole. 

Those corners are no match for the Patriots receivers, but the Jets and DC Gregg Williams may try to take advantage of the offensive line flux of the Patriots by bringing overload blitzes and stunts to test their communication. Look for Brady to use the quick passing game first and the backs if the Jets come after him. If he gets good protection, they should shred the secondary. After his flurry of outrage earlier this week, it will be interesting to see how Jamal Adams plays and is used this week.

Next up the Jets offense:

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

The Jets picked up Le’Veon Bell this offseason from the Steelers and he’s one of the most talented backs in the league. Despite having a sore shoulder that required an MRI this week, Bell had 31 touches on MNF [21 rushes and 10 receptions]. But the Jets offensive line has struggled to get him into areas where he can break free. They also have Ty Montgomery and Bilal Powell in the backfield.

The Patriots front seven has been outstanding against the run allowing just 37 yards per game. The defensive line led by Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy, and Michael Bennett has stuffed the opposition at the point of attack, allowing the deep and versatile linebacking crew to clean up and attack. 

Look for the Jets to try to get creative here to get Bell going. If the Jets have any chance of pulling an upset, they have to win this matchup and have Bell being a difference-maker and keep the defense honest. If not, it will be a long afternoon for Gang Green. 

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

The Jets brought Luke Falk off the practice squad for Monday Night’s game after Trevor Siemian [ankle] and Sam Darnold [illness] were knocked out of the starting lineup. Falk performed as well as could be expected, coming in cold after Siemian was hurt. But his issue is having enough weapons in the passing game. 

Quincy Enunwa is on IR with a neck injury. Newcomer Demaryius Thomas reaggravated the hamstring injury he had with the Patriots. That leaves Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, tight end Ryan Griffin, and Bell out of the backfield.

The Patriots’ secondary has been outstanding in the passing game. And the pass rush sacked Dolphins’ QBs seven times last week. They’ll attempt to test a Jets OL that has struggled so far in 2019. 

Stephon Gilmore and Jonathan Jones should matchup with the Jets two big targets outside, while Pat Chung will draw Griffin. It comes back to Bell against the host of New England’s linebackers. On paper, it appears Falk will have a long, frustrating afternoon. 

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots Stephen Gostkowski had a singularly awful day in Miami with 2 missed extra points and a missed field goal. The good news is he returns to Gillette where he’s been solid. Jake Bailey has done well with his first punting action although he has struggled it seems with the holding for FGs and extra points. The return game has been so-so but the coverage units have been solid.

The Jets have had struggles of their own and have Sam Ficken as their placekicker. Lachlan Edwards has done a solid job of punting but Braxton Berrios and Trenton Cannon haven’t provided much in the return game.  

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

So, do the Patriots improve to 3-0 or do the Jets pull a huge upset in Gillette being three-touchdown underdogs?  The signs point to the former rather than the latter. This is a game even without the myriad of injuries the Jets have suffered, is one the Patriots, on paper should win. That’s why they play the games.

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Stay Aggressive and Get After Falk – Look for the Patriots defense to remain aggressive and challenge the Jets receivers. They’ll feel like the Jets WRs can’t beat them deep, so they’ll challenge the short to intermediate routes and give Falk nothing to find open. Falk was actually processing the plays too quickly early on Monday and got rid of the ball before the play developed. Later in the second half, he was holding the ball too long. If the Patriots can force him to do that again on Sunday, they’ll be successful and may force some turnovers.

They’ll show different fronts and packages [show man, play zone] to try to confuse Falk, who is a smart kid but doesn’t possess great arm strength. With a pass rush that doesn’t have any single “dedicated pass rusher”, the Patriots should utilize bringing pressure from all different areas. 

Make the Jets win while passing the ball is what they’re going to try to do this week. With a banged-up and depleted WR core and the third QB under center, the key is to make Luke Falk beat them.

Short, Quick Passing Game To Move the Ball: The Patriots passing game and Tom Brady’s protection will be put to the test early in this one as I believe Gregg Williams, who is always aggressive, will try to overwhelm the new faces on the offensive line. The Patriots counter the Jets blitzes by using their quickness off the line, Julian Edelman and Antonio Brown are two of the best at this and are nearly uncoverable out of the slot. 

James White and Rex Burkhead are also the great equalizers in both blitz pickup and getting out of the backfield and getting open. It will be a great part of the chess match to see when and where Williams decides to send his blitzes. Josh Gordon can work the short areas as well with slants while Phillip Dorsett along with Gordon will attack the intermediate areas of the field. 

Win the Turnover Battle: The Patriots, especially right now are much deeper than the Jets and have the superior team. The Jets offense has struggled to move the ball and to score points. They can’t afford to get into a situation where they have to match Brady and Co. score for score. They have to shorten the game, keep the NE offense on the bench and help out their young QB by giving him some short fields to work with. That’s why turnovers are so important this week. 

If you’re the Patriots, if you win the turnover battle this week, this should be a runaway.  By being aggressive and forcing the issue, the Patriots should be in a good position to do just that.

___________

Never underestimate divisional games and how tough they can be, despite the apparent lopsidedness of the Vegas odds.  The Patriots and Jets’ games are always hard-hitting and physical contests. This one should be no different. The two teams by virtue of playing twice a year, know each other well and will look to use that knowledge against one another. 

The Patriots are the better team and that will play out as the game unfolds. It may be close for a half, but Brady and Co. find holes in the Jets secondary and the defense once again rises to the occasion.  Patriots 30-6

The “Knocking on Sevens’ Door” tour heads back out on the road next week as the Patriots take on the Buffalo Bills.

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 and breakdown game analysis

Patriots 2019 Opponents, First Impressions of the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
September 18, 2019 at 8:17 am ET

The New York Jets had very different designs on the start of the 2019 season. After firing everyone and beginning a fresh start, they hired head coach Adam Gase, who they hoped would jump-start Year 2 for QB Sam Darnold, were big spenders in free agency signing Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley to big-money contracts.

But a combination of injuries and illness have taken their toll on the roster and the Jets find themselves in an 0-2 hole. Now they’re coming to Foxboro to take on their hated rival New England Patriots who have dominated the matchups in recent years. 

With the offense banged up and already on their third starting QB of the season, they’ll have to lean on their running game and their defense this week if they want to pull an upset. Here’s our first look at the 2019 J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.

Luke Falk is the Starting QB for Now:

Luke Falk went from practice squad QB and running the scout team to being the Jets starting QB in a matter of hours.

The football gods dealt the Jets a couple of haymakers early this season. Starting QB Sam Darnold was feeling sick before the opener against the Bills and later it was learned that he contracted mononucleosis and will be out for at least a month. With the weight loss and fatigue that is associated with the illness, there is a dangerous chance of his spleen becoming enlarged, which would put him at serious risk of injury if he were to play before being completely healed.

The team had signed free agent Trevor Siemian this offseason. He spent 2018 with the Vikings after three years of being on the QB carousel with John Elway and the Broncos. Siemian is a smart, strong-armed passer but has had accuracy issues. He got the starting nod [13-11 record as a starting QB] against the Browns. But on a hit by Miles Garrett as he was releasing the ball caused his foot to get caught up in the turf under him. The result was a gruesome-looking injury. He tore the ligaments in his ankle and is lost for the year. 

Luke Falk, c’mon down… It is a tough position for Falk to step into. The Jets will be signing another QB this week to back up Falk but Gase said he will be the starter until Darnold returns from his illness. Falk also signed with the Jets this spring after spending much of his rookie season on IR with the Dolphins. He entered in the second quarter after Siemian went down and completed 20 of 25 passes for 198 yards. He had a 99.7 passer rating. 

Injuries Everywhere For the Jets:

It isn’t just being down two quarterbacks where the Jets are hurting. They are banged up everywhere. WR Quincy Enunwa was lost for the season on IR after suffering a serious neck injury. Le’Veon Bell had an MRI on his shoulder after getting banged up on Week 1 against the Bills. He did play and play well against the Browns but will be operating on a short week.

Newly acquired wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was already dealing with a hamstring issue with the Patriots before his trade to Gang Green, reinjured it on Monday night and it would be surprising to see him play on Sunday. That leaves Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder at WR with Bell out of the backfield, Ryan Griffin at tight end and a lot of question marks.

The defense is banged up too. ILB C.J. Mosley who the Jets signed to a huge free-agent contract was playing outstanding in the opener, scoring a TD on a pick-six as the Jets raced out to a 16-0 lead. But once he left with a groin injury, the Bills scored 17 unanswered points and took the game 17-16. He missed the Browns game and is considered day-to-day for New England this week. 

Quinnen Williams, the #3 pick overall in this spring’s NFL Draft injured his ankle against the Bills and also missed the Browns game. Jordan Jenkins injured his calf against the Browns and isn’t expected to be ready for the Patriots game this weekend.

Le’Veon Bell “Frustrated By 0-2 Start”, Vows to Remain Upbeat:

The Jets laid out some big money for running back Le’Veon Bell this spring and thus far he’s done everything they’ve asked and then some, totaling up 229 all-purpose yards on offense for the Jets after sitting out the 2018 season in a contract squabble with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But the look on his face on Monday Night was unmistakable as he was visibly frustrated as the Jets fell to 0-2 with a 23-3 loss to the Browns. Now the Jets travel to New England, whose defense has been playing outstanding for the first two games. Bell, who was not used to losing in Pittsburgh was quick to point out that he was looking forward.

Bell took to Twitter and put any questions to rest…for now. “It’s easy to get down, but I don’t let that negativity affect me. I’m BLESSED! I’m healthy, secure, & back doing what I love! Yea, I’m frustrated things haven’t went our way. But I look at life and think, how can I complain? I’m grateful to be in this position & to play this game.”

Expect the Jets to lean heavily on Bell in both the running and passing games on Sunday in Foxboro. 

Jamal Adams Benched, Trying to Force His Way Out of NJ?

During Monday night’s 23-3 loss to the Browns, Jets safety Jamal Adams was benched, albeit shortly [five snaps], but it was his reaction that set tongues wagging. After the game, Adams, changed his Twitter bio that previously read “Former LSU All-American – Defensive Back for the New York Jets.” to “Let the lord fight your battles. He hasn’t lost one yet!”

This immediately got the social media world gaga over his comments, believing that he, like Antonio Brown and Minkah Fitzpatrick was trying to force his way off the Jets and move on to greener pastures. His comments after the fact did little to dispel those rumors. 

He called the questions to his bio change just “outside noise” and insisted he was “just focused on this team.” But his explanation of his benching, although brief, was alarming in its tone. “Yeah, I was benched. They benched me. I tried to anticipate a play … and I anticipated wrong,” Adams said in an interview with WFAN Sports Radio on Tuesday. “It happens.”

The Jets also benched high-priced cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who they gave a five-year $72 million dollar contract last year, but his benching was for the entire game. Whether they are just sending a message or they’re done with Johnson will be an area to watch this Sunday.

Gregg Williams Aggressive Defense Will Be Front and Center on Sunday:

There are fewer controversial figures than the Jets defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. Williams is no shrinking violet the way he coaches his defense and the manner in which they play. But sometimes, both he and they cross the line. 

Prior to MNF, Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. called out Williams and accused Williams of coaching “dirty football.” He cited a 2017 preseason game where Beckham Jr. said, Cleveland players told him after the game that Williams wanted the WR targeted for dirty or late hits. 

Williams was suspended for the 2012 season following a tape that was made while he was the defensive coordinator of the Saints where he openly encouraged Saints players to take out opposing players for a monetary bonus.“Kill the head and the body will die”, he was recorded as saying. The tape made its way to the league and both he and head coach Sean Payton were suspended. 

Regardless of those charges, the Jets and Williams should be even more aggressive on Sunday. His team’s offense is struggling and the defense will have to keep them close enough to try to force an upset. The Patriots offensive line is minus three starters including both starting tackles. Williams’ defenses are always aggressive and use the blitz liberally. Come Sunday, look for him to be even more aggressive.

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 myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

New England Patriots News 7-07, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
July 7, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 07-07 and AFC East notes this week. 

We hope that everyone had a happy and safe Independence Day celebration. Just 18 more days until the hard work begins for “Knockin’ on Seven’s Door.”

 Quick Hitters:

Bernard Pollard – is the latest, “look at me” ex-player who is trying to get himself a gig on television or radio. If you think otherwise, you’re kidding yourself, but there is never a shortage of people who feed the monster and fall all over themselves giving these hot take artists their air time. 

Rob Gronkowski – told Rich Eisen in an interview this week, that he reserves the right to change his mind about returning to the NFL once the season starts. In the interview, Gronkowski said this will be the first August in 15 years that he won’t be playing football. But judging from his leaned out frame recently, I still say that the chances of the big guy returning this year are remote.

Jerod Mayo – may not be calling the defensive plays just yet for the Patriots this year. Jeff Howe of the Athletic wrote that Bill Belichick will be calling the plays. Mayo who was seen calling the plays in minicamp this June. 

N’Keal Harry – leads the Patriots rookies with a 74 grade on Madden 2019 that was released recently. Cornerback Jojuan Williams was second with a score of 70 while Damien Harris and Chase Winovich were next, tied with a grade of 69.

Tom Brady – is preparing for training camp and continues to defy Father Time. He posted a video of his workouts where he was running sprints. While Brady will never be considered remotely anything close to a sprinter, he did, however, beat his own time at the NFL Combine, which is pretty impressive for a player about to be 42 in less than a month from now. 

Tom Brady Pt2 – With all of the talk centering around Brady from the hot take artists every summer, one has to dig thru many oysters to find a pearl. Or in this case, I didn’t have to do anything at all since it was handed to me. Our good bud, @PatriotsSBLIII has always shared great stuff with us, and he never fails to use common sense in a frequently senseless debate when it comes to #12. He sent me this a few weeks ago but right now seems a perfect time to share this.

Tom Brady’s last 16 playoff games (2013-18)
13-3 (.813) 3SBs
452/702 (64.4%)
5,230 yards
7.45 Y/A
43.9* Att/gm @CSimmsQB
31 TD
12 INT
94.4 PR

Only 3 players in NFL history have had a 16-game regular season on this level. (Brady, Brees 2011; Manning 2013)

And for those anti-Brady types out there, not one of those games was against any team from the AFC East but all against playoff teams in the Divisional Round and beyond which makes those numbers even more impressive. Thanks again to @PatriotsSBLIII for the always great stuff and being a sounding board for constructive criticism. 

Tedy Bruschi Suffered a Stroke on July 4:

The former Patriots linebacker who has been a regular on ESPN was just given a promotion this week, being added to their pregame broadcast. It was reported that Bruschi, who had a stroke after the Super Bowl in Feb. 2005, recognized his own symptoms and reported it right away. Robert Kraft and the Patriots released the following statement:

“While shocked to hear of his recent stroke … we are relieved to learn that he recognized the early symptoms and immediately sought and received treatment,” the statement says. “On behalf of the entire Patriots organization, we extend our love, thoughts and prays to Tedy and the Bruschi family while we wish him godspeed in a complete recovery.”

Bruschi created a runners club called Tedy’s Team to raise awareness for the American Stroke Association. He has run the Boston Marathon three times, including in this spring. He is expected to make a complete recovery.

Damien Harris Could Be a Big Contributor For the Offense in 2019:

We were quite excited with the possibilities for the offense after the selection of Damien Harris in the 3rd round of the draft this spring by the Patriots. Harris was locked up for four years with a $3.6 million dollar deal. 

Harris should fit in extremely well in the Patriots running back by committee positional group. While in Alabama, he played with a multitude of very talented running backs that are now in the NFL. Alabama also played with RB committee under Nick Saban and Harris played with the likes of Derrick Henry, Bo Scarborough, Kenyan Drake, Najee Harris, and Josh Jacobs while with the Tide.  

With Sony Michel coming off of a minor but another knee procedure, Harris can more than fit the bill for the Patriots penchant for running the ball between the tackles. A couple of key numbers should be remembered when thinking about Harris:

  • 2 (Two) The number of fumbles Harris had in 477 career carries at Alabama. Bill Belichick loves sure-handed running backs and Harris is definitely that.
  • 6.4 – The average yards per carry Harris had at Alabama. That kind of average always puts the offense in a position to succeed. 
  • 3.2 – Yards Harris averaged after contact. This number can’t be overstated and when the offense needs to pick up those 3rd and 4th and short-yardage situations, it helps to have a back that can easily do that.

Harris isn’t a threat to take the ball to the house on every carry, he doesn’t have that breakaway speed but he is a perfect fit for the Patriots offense. He hits the hole quickly and has very good vision and will follow his blockers thru the point of attack. He then shows the ability and confidence to make a cut and go.

With a thickly built lower body, he’s tough to bring down, will get the yards after contact and has little wear on his tires after playing in a similar committee approach at ‘Bama. He’s a very good and willing pass blocker, something the Patriots insist on for their backs. And he is a good if underrated pass catcher out of the backfield with soft hands and the ability to move outside into the slot if needed. 

With Michel out of the picture during minicamp, Harris and Brandon Bolden got quite a few snaps in the running game. Look for that to continue thru training camp and into the preseason. He could be a very valuable addition to the offense as a rookie. 

Patriots Coaches Learn The Old Fashioned Way Under Belichick:

One of the ways that Bill Belichick likes to fill out his coaching staff is by hiring young coaching assistants. Then molding, training and develop them by increasing their responsibility by putting more and more on their plates.

This is the way everyone is trained, including Nick Caserio, Josh McDaniels, and Joe Judge who started at the bottom and worked their way up. It also includes his two sons who it seems always get mentioned it seems as benefits of nepotism more so than hard work. If one can remember back to the early days of Belichick’s reign as head coach in New England, they’ll see his sons on the sideline, charting plays and soaking in the experience, very much like Belichick learned from his father at Navy. 

And one of the things at all of the young coaches get tasked to do is to learn by “padding games.” So, what the heck is “padding games” and what does it entail, you ask? Nothing nefarious (sorry BB haters). 

Padding of games for Bill Belichick is about not only learning the game inside and out but more importantly for the assistants, it is learning the game thru the prism of the head coach’s eye. They learn the way that Belichick views the game and therefore they’ll be able to better support him in his game planning. That includes his sons.

Steve Belichick, the Patriots safeties coach, calls it his father’s “Football 101.”

Belichick will assign young assistants one or several games of an upcoming opponent. Then, watching the All-22 coaches tape, they will chart every snap on paper. The assistants have to chart the movement of every single player on the offense and defense on separate pieces of paper.

They must identify each player’s responsibility as well as formations, splits, routes from receivers, protection schemes and what each team is attempting to accomplish on each given play. Given that the length of games will involve so many plays, padding a single game will take from several hours (for someone who has been doing it) to several days for one game. 

McDaniels, in an interview during Super Bowl week with Yahoo cited padding games for three years as instrumental in learning the intricacies of the game. “I think the most important thing young people have got to understand is, it’s not punishment,” McDaniels said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to learn how important everything is at this level.”

Thus, the assistants learn what concepts, both offensive and defensively will work against an opponent. The younger Belichick has charted hundreds of games by his own account and sees the value in it. 

“You get to learn about football, different schemes, different styles of play. You understand how different and creative you can be to win … I used to get excited to pad the good teams and I learned what not to do from the bad teams.”

This is the way the assistants learn how Belichick breaks down tape and how they all get on the same sheet of music. Bill’s famous attention to detail will invariably entail numerous sticky notes on each page, identifying things missed or wrong and what the assistant has gotten right. 

It is the way that the younger coaches grow and develop and gives them the attention to detail and exhaustiveness that Bill Belichick demands from himself and his assistants. There is no secret formula, it is just hard work…and doing your job.

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Sticking With McCoy (for now) as Starting RB: 

When the Buffalo Bills entered the offseason, many thought RB Shady McCoy had played his last game in a Bills uniform. After suffering his worst season as a pro, on the wrong side of 30 and with a lot of wear on his tires, it seemed McCoy’s days were numbered for Buffalo. 

The Bills then brought in the ageless Frank Gore, to go along with T.J. Yeldon and rookie Devin Singletary and fullback Patrick DeMarco. And things seemed, on the surface that McCoy was soon to be phased out. But not so fast…

GM Brandon Beane has stated all spring that entering the season, McCoy was the starting running back. Something McCoy has been quick to echo. 

Perhaps with a move to the quick passing game utilizing Cole Beasley, the Bills are hoping with the addition of Gore, Yeldon, and Singletary that McCoy, with less work will rediscover his game. Holding onto him for trade value doesn’t make much sense at this point. Training camp will be interesting to watch this summer.

Dolphins’ Kendrick Norton Loses Arm in Horrific Car Crash:

The Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Kendrick Norton was seriously injured in a car crash early Thursday morning when his pickup truck crashed into a concrete barrier and ended up on its roof. 

EMTs reportedly had to amputate Norton’s arm before taking him to the hospital. He also reportedly suffered head injuries but while the damage to him was very serious, he is expected to survive. His condition was upgraded to good on Saturday morning. Norton was a 7th round draft pick of the Panthers in 2018, Miami scooped him off of Carolina’s practice squad last year and was expected to compete for a roster spot with Miami in training camp.

Sources from Norton’s family said on social media that another driver, behind the wheel of a 2015 Maserati cut off Norton and caused the accident. But that hasn’t been confirmed from the Florida Highway Patrol. They have yet to issue a report. That driver who has been identified as Jessie Pena, 30, was not injured in the crash.  And her car sustained minor damage.

Jets Hoping For a Big Year From Robby Anderson:

The New York Jets are hoping for bigger things from 2nd year QB Sam Darnold this fall. Adding RB LeVeon Bell to the Jets stable should definitely help take some of the pressure off of him. But beyond that, they’ll need better production from their wide receivers in 2019. 

The Jets current WR depth chart includes Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder, Josh Bellamy, Charone Peake, Deontay Burnett, Greg Dortch, Valentine Holmes, Quadree Henderson, J.J. Jones, Jeff Smith, Tim White, and Deonte Thompson.

The first three players are locks to make the roster and they’ll need those and some of the latter wideouts to step it up this year. Barring a trade or a signing for an established wide receiver, these players, especially Robby Anderson will have to increase their production.

Both Anderson and Enunwa suffered injuries last year but should be fine come the beginning of training camp. One area where Anderson is expected to increase his production is in his usage. The Jets have used him as a deep threat mainly, however that is expected to change under Adam Gase. 

With Crowder and Enunwa’s injury history, depth may be an issue, but the biggest question this summer will be, can Anderson produce in a contract year and stay out of trouble? As the #1, he’ll draw the opponent’s often best cover corner. 

________________

“There are no shortcuts to building a team each season. You build the foundation brick by brick.”Bill Belichick

“So, how was your week?”

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.