New England Patriots Game Grades: Run Defense Struggles, Receives Failing Grade


Here are this week’s game grades from their win over the Jets.

Passing Offense: B+

All things considered, Tom Brady‘s passing attack performed very well on Thursday night, especially when you take into consideration they only had the ball for 19 minutes. Tom Brady completed 20 of his 37 pass attempts for 261 yards, three touchdowns and zero picks. He was lights out once again, and not only that, he spread the ball around to all of his weapons.

Shane Vereen and Rob Gronkowski both hauled in five passes, while Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell snagged four each. Danny Amendola also had arguably the play of the game, as his fourth quarter touchdown catch was truly remarkable. It was pretty cool to finally see Amendola back involved in the offense.

However the offensive line was the most impressive group in this one, as they came into this game without their two best interior lineman and held their own against one of the best defensive fronts in the league. Technically Brady was sacked once, but it was just a play where Brady rolled out to his right, saw there was nothing there, and took the one yard loss. Throughout the game Brady had plenty of time to sit back in the pocket, and pick apart the over-matched Jets’ secondary. Once Bryan Stork and Dan Connolly return, this offensive line will really start to click.

That loss to Kansas City feels like it occurred months ago.

Rushing Offense: C+

With Stevan Ridley out for the rest of the year, observing how the running back rotation panned out was at the top of my priority list, and for now, it is obvious Shane Vereen will handle the bulk of the carries. Vereen had 16 touches for the game, while Jonas Gray and Brandon Bolden combined to touch the ball four times. Vereen was on the field for 48 of the 60 offensive snaps, while Gray had 12 snaps, and Bolden only one.

Vereen played extremely well in the passing game, but the Pats failed to generate any kind of running game, gaining only 63 yards on 15 carries. The offensive line was excellent in pass protection, but they couldn’t get any push off the ball, which is the biggest reason why New England had to rely on Tom Brady’s arm to move the ball. Going forward, look for the Pats to utilize Jonas Gray more on the ground, as his physical style could really help them out in the future.

Pass Defense: B

It wasn’t their best performance, but I’ll take it. Darrelle Revis and company probably gave up a few too many big plays in the back end, but ultimately, they got the win, which coming off only a few days of rest, is the only thing that matters. Geno Smith completed nearly 59% of his passes for 226 yards and a touchdown, but the Patriots sacked him three times, and didn’t allow him to get into any type of rhythm all game long.

With Jerod Mayo out, the Pats’ problem with covering tight ends only gets bigger, and that was evidenced by the two Jets’ tight ends combining for six catches, 72 yards, and a touchdown. Hopefully Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower can get this problem figured out, because their next two games feature two elite tight ends in Martellus Bennett and Julius Thomas.

Run Defense: F

I couldn’t come up with any excuse to give this unit anything better than a failing grade, so that is exactly what they are going to get. New York ran for 218 yards against the Pats, averaging over five yards a carry in the process. Chris Ivory had huge holes to run through all night long, and on top of that, New England’s tackling was atrocious, which allowed him to gain way too much yards after contact.

The Patriots have acknowledged that the short week, along with the loss of Jerod Mayo caused their communication to be off, and while that is certainly a valid excuse, this type of play cannot continue in the future. They now have a mini-bye week, so I hope they take advantage of it by getting healthy, and making sure their communication is back where it needs to be for their matchup with Chicago.

Special Teams: B

Danny Amendola showed a nice spark in the kick return game, averaging 26.3 yards a return, Stephen Gostkowski drilled both field goals he attempted, and Chris Jones saved the win by blocking Nick Folk’s 58-yard field goal at the end of the game. Overall a solid game for the special-teams. A 62-yard kick return by Walt Powell does knock them down a grade, as that came at a pivotal moment in the game.