Watching this past week’s game versus the Jets was painful.
Re-watching it was even worse.
Aside from a few select spots, the Pats offense was absolute trash, coming up with no first downs and no points all game long. After their impressive opening drive, I thought that this would be the game where everything came together for Tom Brady’s unit, but unfortunately, it did not.
Are you ready to see some bad grades for Brady’s bunch? If so, continue on…it gets ugly.
Because of how different the offensive line, receivers and quarterback’s played this Sunday, I decided to break them up into three different sections.
Rob Gronkowski had a monstrous return, coming up with eight catches for 114 yards. He appears to be close to 100%, and with a few weeks of game action, his rapport with Tom Brady should be just fine. The rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins also had decent outings in terms getting open, although from my view, Dobson appeared to gain separation much more than Thompkins did. Dobson is beginning to adjust to the NFL game, and he could begin to really produce for the Pats if he ever gets on the same page with his quarterback. Julian Edelman continues his stellar 2013 campaign, hauling in five balls for 44 yards.
Tom Brady put forth another forgettable performance, completing only 48% of his passes, while throwing a painful pick-six early in the third quarter. Brady was missing open targets, and he locked in to his big tight end way too much, which forced a lot of empty drives for New England. This has been pointed out by everybody that covers the Patriots, but Brady just hasn’t played up to his usual standards here in 2013. His numbers are down, and his overall efficiency is not up to par. Musket Fire’s own Tim Dillon made an interesting point the other day, saying that he may be dealing with an injury that we don’t know about. This certainly could be an option, because Brady simply hasn’t been Brady.
Offensive Line: D
The offensive line was just as bad, allowing Brady to be sacked four times, and never really allowed him to get into a rhythm in the second half. After reviewing the game, Ryan Wendell really stood out to me in how bad he is in pass protection. I find this disappointing because Wendell played phenomenally in 2012, but his play, particularly in the passing game has really dropped off through seven games in 2013. Even though Brady hasn’t played well at all, there is no way that he will be able to go through his reads and hit the open man, if he is constantly getting hit by the opposition. The big boys up front have to do a better job, as giving up 11 sacks in three weeks will not get your offense anywhere, let alone the end zone.
Rushing Offense: D+
A large portion of the blame when it comes to the struggles of the running game on Sunday have to be put on the coaching staff. I don’t think that they ran the ball enough in the early stages of the football game, which forced them to drop back and sling it for the remainder of the contest. Of course, Stevan Ridley and the offensive line didn’t do them any favors by getting blown up by the Jets defensive front all game, but not giving them more attempts, led to a lot of the Pats offensive struggles. 90 yards on 20 carries won’t get it done against a defense with the talent of the New York Jets, and it was proven in this game.
Pass Defense: B-
The Pats secondary was without their top man Aqib Talib on Sunday, and after the Jets first three drives of the contest, it looked like it would be a long day for New England (201 yards given up through first three drives). But they settled down, and for the most part locked up the Jets aerial attack. A key move the coaching staff made, was inserting Marquise Cole into the slot after Kyle Arrington struggled to contain Jeremy Kerley. Obviously this change wasn’t the sole reason for what made the defensive backfield tighten up, but it definitely helped. Alfonzo Dennard, who has been great all season long, was terrific once again, holding Stephen Hill to one reception for 17 yards. If it weren’t for Talib’s incredible play this season, I think that Dennard would be getting much more attention from a national perspective. He is locking down the man across from him, despite usually giving up at least two inches to the receiver, because of his small frame.
Devin McCourty is quickly establishing himself as one of the top safeties in the league, and he had one of his best outings of the season on Sunday. His ability to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time allows him to limit deep throws, and help out his cornerbacks who are stranded on an island. McCourty displayed this late in the third quarter when he broke up what looked like a sure touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland. D-Mac got over just in time to knock the ball away from the tight end, saving a touchdown for New England. The Patriots pass rush played well too, coming up with four big sacks of Geno Smith. Chandler Jones was responsible for two of them, which gives him 6.5 for the season. I have been very impressed with what I have seen from Jones, and the more I see, the more I think that he could very well end up as the best pass rusher in the league in a few more years.
Rush Defense: B+
When you see that the Jets racked up 177 rushing yards, you instantly jump to the conclusion that they dominated the Pats in this facet of the game. But you can’t go off the total amount of yardage alone to form your opinions about how the Patriots run defense fared.
The Jets ran the ball a whopping 52 times on Sunday, which will get any team a solid chunk of rushing yards. The Pats front seven did well in containing the New York ground attack, especially considering the fact that they did it without Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Jerod Mayo. Brandon Spikes and Dont’a Hightower both fought admirably in Mayo’s absence, and along with a solid outing from the Pats front four, they were able to stymie the Jets ground assault. Joe Vellano and Chris Jones get pushed back off of the line frequently, but they usually recover, fight off of their blocks, and try to get in on the play. Hightower and Spikes were both tackling machines as they managed to keep everything in front of them. The Jets longest run of the day was a 17 yarder by Chris Ivory, showing that the Pats didn’t let anything get behind them, which is a key element in having a tough run defense. Geno Smith also ran the ball six times for 32 yards, which skews the stats a bit, but the final box score still represents the Patriots solid effort in limiting the Jets running game.
A 3.4 yards per carry average is not something that you are proud of if you are the team running the ball, and despite winning the game and nearly getting 200 total rushing yards, the Jets have to be disappointed with their effort. Right now, the Patriots run defense is a mess, as they attempt to adjust to life without Wilfork, Mayo and (temporarily) Kelly. Failing to average four yards a carry against this depleted unit is a win for New England, which is a big reason why they hung around throughout the contest.