It was a true “team win” for the New England Patriots, so the grades after their 49-19 demolition of the New York Jets on Thanksgiving are high to reflect the dominance of the team as a whole. They were better than the Jets in every phase of the game (rushing, passing, run defense, and pass defense), and there were a couple of players who stood out in particular as well.
New England Patriots Pass Offense A+
Tom Brady wasn’t as amazing as he was against the Indianapolis Colts, but boy did he put forward another great game. Brady completed 18 of 28 passes for 323 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks for the second straight game. The job the offensive line did, even without Sebastian Vollmer, was incredible, as they did not allow Brady to be hit. His 139.4 QB Rating puts him up there among the league leaders for a single game this season, and his 11.5 yards per attempt average is simply mind-boggling.
However, Brady did make a couple of throws that he would definitely like to have back, including a couple of passes to Brandon Lloyd that should have gone for touchdowns. It’s easy to look at Lloyd’s line (three catches for 26 yards) and fault him a little, but Lloyd could have easily had 75 receiving yards in this game.
Wes Welker lit up the opposition with seven catches for 71 yards, and he was simply uncoverable. The 56-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman was Brady’s best pass, but the three-yard TD to Welker exemplifies the day the Pats had as a passing offense. Brady had all day to throw as the Pats took full advantage of the Jets incompetent pass rush, and the Jets simply had no answer for Welker in coverage.
Patriots Run Offense A
Stevan Ridley avenged a poor first game against the Jets this season by consistently gaining yardage on the ground and coming just three yards shy of 100 yards against a run defense that is better than the statistics indicate. Key players are back to health for the Jets this time around, and they do possess some top run defenders in David Harris, LaRon Landry, Bart Scott, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sione Pouha, and Yeremiah Bell.
It seems like Shane Vereen has turned into a full-on Jets-killer, mainly due to the fact that the Jets just can’t handle his speed and explosiveness. Vereen’s 83-yard touchdown reception made Jeff Demps proud, and he was also solid on the ground.
That’s how to classify the Patriots ground game. Solid. There were no big runs, because that’s not what the Pats needed to do against the Jets. They needed to consistently, successfully pound the ball and effectively set up the pass and wear down the Jets D. That’s exactly what they did yesterday.
Pats Pass Defense A-
Kyle Arrington is breaking out of his slump, and he’s had a second solid game for the Patriots with two more pass break-ups to add to his total of four in the past two games. Arrington wasn’t the only bright spot in the secondary, because Steve Gregory made plays to make up for a few minor mistakes and Devin McCourty continues to be the standout of this secondary.
Rex Ryan really likes Aqib Talib, because he’s afraid of getting Mark Sanchez to throw it in his direction. Talib was only targeted once or twice in this game, which was interesting given his struggles against the Indianapolis Colts last week.
The worry for me is the linebackers, because they are putrid in coverage and gave up several throws underneath. I want to see Tavon Wilson on the field more to cover tight ends, because he barely got any snaps and it showed with how productive Dustin Keller was in this game.
Without Chandler Jones, the Patriots pass rush was rendered ineffective aside from sacks from Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower. Sanchez is the last accurate QB in the league (by some significance) against the pass rush, but he the rush didn’t get to him. No matter, because he had two terrible turnovers on his own accord that undermined some good numbers (8.4 Y/A, over 300 yards passing). But, then again, box score numbers can be misleading. They were in this game, because nearly all of Sanchez’s yards came in garbage time. And yes, please emphasize “garbage time”, because this game was well in hand after Julian Edelman’s fumble recovery for a TD (great job from Devin McCourty on that one to force the fumble on the kick-off) to cap off the 53-second scoring spree of 21 points.
Run Defense B
The New England Patriots run defense was the most vaunted in the league before the bye week, but things have changed ever since C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson lit up the unit in Week 10. The Pats were sloppy in that game, but it wasn’t just rust since the Colts and Jets have been able to post solid rushing games against them.
Bilal Powell worked the short-range game well, while Shonn Greene was the star of the Jets unit with 5.1 rushing yards per carry. The Jets finished the day with a total of 119 yards, and it was mostly due to inconsistent play from the Patriots. Vince Wilfork, Brandon Spikes, and Jerod Mayo all had strong days overall, but there were just a few too many collective lapses on defense. Gregory continues to take poor angles when tackling, and that got put on the back-burner due to the three turnovers he played a major role in.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.