NFL Wire News

Patriots’ offense not impressive vs. Jets

on

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots (12-3) defeated Rex Ryan’s New York Jets twice this season by a total of three points.

Three points separating a Super Bowl favorite from an also-ran that might be in store for a new coach and new general manager this offseason.

While Bill Belichick’s Patriots took care of business yet again, it’s clear that the product on the field Sunday wasn’t what the coach is looking for, nor was it likely good enough to take the Patriots where they want to go in February.

New England’s 17-16, comeback-and-hold-on victory over the Jets (3-12) at MetLife Stadium was not an overly impressive win for a Patriots team that clinched a first-round bye.

The most obvious concerns were on offense. Sure, New York has an impressive defensive front. But Tom Brady was sacked four times, tying the season high from the opening-day loss in Miami. And New England’s 231 yards were a season low, the first game under 300 yards since the ugly Week 4 loss in Kansas City.

Brady was hit 11 times and the offense never hit its stride nor found any rhythm.

“I think we had a lot of communication or I’d say execution issues on offense,” Belichick said Monday. “We just didn’t execute very well, I’d say, in any part of the game. All the players were involved, all the coaches were involved. We just didn’t execute very well. We had mistakes everywhere, multiple mistakes everywhere. You could point to any spot and find some because they were everywhere.”

Heading into Sunday’s finale against the Bills, Belichick understands that his team has plenty to improve upon.

“We just have to try to correct them and move on,” Belichick said of the mistakes in New York. “But I don’t think there was any one single thing that I would point to. I think it was an accumulation of a lot of lack-of-execution plays.

“That being said, there were a lot of times good things happened on the play but one part of the play was poorly executed, and I thought we didn’t have much to show for it. But we didn’t execute the passing game very well. We didn’t execute the running game very well; blocking, passing, catching. … None of it really was very good.”

Josh McDaniels, who has led a New England offense that topped 34 points in six of seven games during the middle of the season, understands his unit sputtered at MetLife and certainly can’t live on its midseason production.

“We didn’t have our best day in total on offense. I don’t think anybody played or executed or coached particularly well, starting with me,” McDaniels said Monday. “I think there were definitely some things we did well at times, and certainly the Jets gave us some issues. They have a good defense, a good front and a good scheme. They’re well-coached. They deserve credit for creating some issues for us, and at the same time we feel like we can coach and play better. That onus is on us. We’ve got to do better, and hopefully we can do that going forward.”

The struggle might have been partly due to the absence of key players such as Julian Edelman, Dan Connolly, Kyle Arrington and LeGarrette Blount. It might have been due to the predictable dogfights that come with division games between teams that know each other so well. And it might have been partly because Ryan’s Jets have proven themselves capable of making life hard on Brady and the Patriots over the years.

“Every team is tough in the National Football League,” Belichick said. “I think you can just look at the scores in yesterday’s games or pretty much every game in the NFL every weekend. It’s the NFL. We don’t play Division I football and have a couple Division III teams on the schedule. They just don’t exist.

“Every week is tough. I don’t want to take anything away from them. They came out there, they competed well. In the end, we kind of made the plays that we needed to make in the fourth quarter to win and they didn’t.

“But I didn’t think we played particularly well, particularly on offense, until we made a few plays in the fourth quarter. I don’t think it was our best game by any stretch. I don’t want to take anything away from the Jets, but … we’ll need to play a lot better than we played yesterday.”

NOTES: TE Rob Gronkowski was held to 31 yards, tying a season low, on six catches against the Jets. He did notch his team-best 12th touchdown on the season. … WR Julian Edelman (concussion) missed Sunday’s game, the first time he has missed a game to injury since 2012. RB LeGarrette (shoulder), CB Kyle Arrington (hamstring) and OG Dan Connolly (knee) also did not play.

REPORT CARD VS. JETS

–PASSING OFFENSE: C — The offensive line once again allowed too much pressure early and Tom Brady and the passing attack struggled to get going. New England punted on its three first-quarter possessions, two of those drives stunted by sacks. That set the tone for the day. Brady completed 23 of 35 passes for just 182 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, for a 76.1 rating. He was sacked four times, all in the first half, and officially hit 11 times by Rex Ryan’s defense. The four sacks were the most since the Week 1 loss in Miami, and the rating Brady’s third lowest of the year and lowest since the Week 4 blowout loss in Kansas City. With Julian Edelman sidelined with a concussion, Danny Amendola stepped in to lead the Patriots with a game-high eight catches for 63 yards. New York focused on taking Rob Gronkowski away and held the tight end to six catches for just 31 yards, although he did haul in a pretty touchdown. New England’s passing game just barely made enough plays to pull out the one-point win. Brady didn’t have anywhere near his best day and much of the struggled can be traced back to the consistent pass rush the Jets put forth, covering up for the team’s suspect secondary.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C — New York entered the game with the No. 4 run defense in the NFL. New England entered without top back LeGarrette Blount (shoulder). The results played out pretty much as expected. The Patriots had just nine yards rushing in the first half on six attempts. Things got a little better in the second half, but New England finished with just 85 yards on 24 attempts (3.5 average). Jonas Gray had a mere five yards on six attempts, though he did score a 1-yard touchdown. Shane Vereen had six attempts for 38 yards, all on an 81-yard drive to a third-quarter field goal. Brandon Bolden had four carries for 29 yards as the Patriots ran the clock out on the victory in the fourth quarter. Despite the minor situational success of the running game, it was an expected struggle to establish the run against a formidable New York front.

–PASS DEFENSE: B-minus — The final numbers certainly weren’t eye-popping for Geno Smith. The beleaguered Jets quarterback completed 17 of 27 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown and one interception for an 83.9 rating. He spread the ball around to eight targets. He went after No. 3 corner Logan Ryan at times with success. The Patriots got little help from the pass rush but the coverage also allowed four Jets to notch plays of 20 yards or more. Tight end Jeff Cumberland beat Patrick Chung badly for a 20-yard score. New England also didn’t tackle well at times in the secondary. New York’s passing offense has been among the worst in the NFL this season, but it made just enough plays to give the home team the chance at the upset. Conversely, the budding pass defense wasn’t horrific, but it allowed too many plays from a unit that’s not exactly star-studded.

–RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus — The last time the run defense met up against the Jets it allowed a season-high 218 yards as Chris Ivory and Co. ran crazy. Vince Wilfork and the front had none of that in this rematch on the road. Alan Branch and Wilfork each held Chris Johnson and Smith to 1-yard gains on the first two plays. That set a solid tone that continued for most of the game. New York finished with 116 yards on 32 attempts. That was 30-plus yards below New York’s season average as the No. 2 rushing attack in football and more than 100 yards less than it churned out in Week 7 in New England. The bulk of the credit for that goes to Wilfork, Chandler Jones and the rest of the defensive line.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus — From Wilfork’s deflection of Nick Folk’s game-winning field goal attempt to impressive coverage on kickoffs, New England was solid in the kicking game. Amendola had a 39-yard punt return to set up a short touchdown drive. Ryan Allen had a net average of 45.6 on five punts, including two inside the 20, despite a few suspect snaps from Danny Aiken. Stephen Gostkowski hit his only field goal attempt, from 24 yards, while the coverage unit helped hold the Jets to a 15-yard average on three returns. Brandon Bolden had a holding call to wipe out Amendola’s 47-yard kickoff return. Other than that, the special teams did their job and got the better of the Jets.

–COACHING: B-minus — The Patriots continue to get off to slow starts and some of that has to fall on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the coaching staff. Part of that comes via communication issues along the offensive line, leading to sacks and pressures. Again, that falls on line coach Dave DeGuglielmo to clean up. The decision to go with an up-tempo approach helped out the attack in the second half. Defensively, the Patriots were solid against the run and the pass. Overall, the failure to put together 60 minutes of solid play in the last month and lack of execution early in games has to fall at least partly on the coaches. Whether that’s game plan, execution or motivation, Bill Belichick and Co. need to find a way to clean it up heading into the postseason.


About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business