For some reason, I've experienced technical glitches trying to post. Have composed the card twice, only to lose it, when the system would not allow me to post it. This has left me almost as frustrated as I was after seeing the Patriots give away another game to the hated NY Jets last Sunday, losing in OT, 30-27. In a game somewhat similar to the loss on October 8th in Cincinnati, the Pats offense went into a second half funk, blew an 11 point lead, and could manage only six (6) points. And please...I don't want to hear any excuses about injuries or their "offense being a work in process." We're nearly at the half way point of the season, folks...and the Patriots allowed themselves to be beaten by the Geno Smith led Jets. That is inexcusable. Here are my grades:
I. OFFENSE: A pathetic second half performance by the entire offense. The Pats were only able to possess the ball for 22:35 in regulation (plus 1:05 in OT), and were 1 for 12 in third down conversions.
1.) QB: They say that a QB gets too much credit when a team wins, and too much blame for when they lose. But, make no mistake about it folks, this loss is on Tom Brady. In one of his most Hugh Milliating performances of his career, Tom finished with just 22 completions in 46 attempts for a pedestrian 228 yards, no TDs, and a pick-6, which changed the course of the game. Though I'm not a big advocate of the QB rating statistic, Tom graded out at 53.5. His offense was 1 for 12 on third down conversions, and his average gain per pass completion was a mere 5 yards. Those are Curtis Painter numbers folks, that should make even the most staunch Brady advocate cringe. I can't recall a game where I've seen Brady more consistently inaccurate with his throws. With the Patriots leading 21-10, and etting the ball first in the second half, Brady promptly threw a 23 yard pick-6 to Jets DB Antonio Allen, on a telegraphed pass to Rob Gronkowski. Then, responding in true Curtis Painter fashion, Brady "led" his offense to three straight "three and outs", allowing the Jets to seize control of the game. It appears that defenses are consistently playing eight in the box against Brady, with a strategy of stopping the run, and taking away the short pass...forcing the master of the dink and dunk to beat them with throws downfield. Unfortunately, that strategy is working, as Brady is repeatedly misfiring on his lengthier throws: GRADE: F;
2.) RBs: After a decent first half, the Jets defense seemed to adjust to apply more pressure to om Brady, and take away the running game. Stevan Ridley finished with 50 yards on just 11 carries, and Brandon Boldin added 36 more on eight (8) carries. The forgotten man, LeGarrette Blount, had just one carry for four (4) yards. None of the RBs contributed to the passing attack. Where art thou, Danny Woodhead? Oh, that's right...he's in San Diego: GRADE: C;
3.) OL: Though the Big Uglies generally gave Tom Brady ample time to throw, they simply are not playing up to expectations as a unit. Sunday, they weren't physical enough to exert their will on the Jets' "D" with the run, and gave up a couple of sacks (Nate Solder/Ryan Wendell) early in the third quarter, in doing their part to allow the Jets take control of the game: GRADE: C-;
4.) TEs and WRs: It was great to see Gronk back, and gronkulating once more. But, Tom Brady reacted to his presence like a man who has been stranded in the desert for three straight weeks, reacts to seeing water. Brady targeted the Big Guy an absurd 17 times, as Gronk led the team with eight (8) catches for 114 yards. No one can fault him for failing to make what would have been a spectacular one-handed catch in the end zone, on the Pats final drive in regulation. As for Brady's all but forgotten WRs, Julian Edelman was targeted seven (7) times, and had five (5) receptions for 44 yards. Aaron Dobson was also targeted seven (7) times, but, largely due to Brady misfires, caught just three (3) passes for 34 yards. Thought to be Brady's favorite receiver, Kembrell Thompkins, was targeted just three (3) times, finishing with a mere two (2) catches for 16 yards. Do you smell what ol' Tex is cooking?: GRADE: C;
II. DEFENSE: After a horrific first series, in which it allowed Geno's Greenos to march 90 yards on 12 plays for a TD, this unit settled down, until the Pats' offense unraveled in the third quarter...which allowed the Jets to go into their "ground and pound" mode.
1.) DL: The Pats may have found themselves a player in rookie DT Chris Jones. He and fellow Jones boy Chandler combined for 21 tackles (13 solos), four (4) sacks, and five tackles for loss. DT Joe Vellano and DE Rob Ninkovich chipped in with a combined 13 tackles (5 solos). The 28 combined tackles was a season high for this group, reflecting the Jets' commitment to their ground game. Though the Pats' front seven held up well in the first half, the failure of the Pats' offense to sustain drives, coupled with the difficulties the "D" had in getting off the field on third down, lead to a combined 52 rushing attempts for 177 yards, with 104 of those yards coming on 34 Chris Ivory runs. Though the Jets only averaged slightly above three (3) yards per run, running attempts in football are analogous to body punches in boxing. The old saying in boxing is, "kill the body, and the head will die". In a similar fashion, it appeared that all those running attempts took their toll on the Pats' front seven as the game wore on...especially in OT: GRADE: B-;
2.) LBs: Though LBs Dont'a Hightower and Brandon Spikes appeared to hold their own against the run, they were clearly challenged in pass coverage. The Jets relied on short outs and slants to slot receiver Jeremy Kerley (eight (8) receptions for 97 yards), and their TEs, Jeff Cumberland and David Nelson, ,combined for seven (7) receptions, for 121 yards. For the game, Hightower and Spikes combined for 22 tackles, including 13 solos. They didn't get much help from rookie Jamie Collins (5 tackles...2 solos), especially in pass coverage: GRADE: C+;
3.) SECONARY: Where art thou, Aqib Talib? Though Vince Wilfolk and Jerod Mayo were clearly missed, Talib's absence was the most glaring. The Jets have even less at the WR position than do the Patriots...but were able to make enough use of 5'9" slot man Jeremy Kerley and their TEs to amount for a combined fifteen receptions for 218 yards. The Green Goblins repeatedly targeted SS Steve Gregory in their passing attack. It's frightening and frustrating to know that Gregory is the best that the Pats have to offer at the SS position, despite trying to fill their void at the position by spending the 34th overall pick in 2009 on Patrick Chung, the 48th overall pick in 2012 on Tavon Wilson, the 91st overall pick on Duron Harmon, and wasting valuable cap space on washed up veteran Adrian Wilson (in case ya'll have forgotten). Once again, BB "The GM" has made things very difficult for BB "the Coach)". How would a head-hunter like Bernard Pollard look in a Patriots' uniform...but...oh well. Yeah, I know..."the Pats winning percentage over the decade"...yada yada yada. Why the Pats weren't more physical with Kerley and those TEs coming off the line of scrimmage, I'll never know. Credit CB Logan Ryan for a great play in jumping a pass route on Geno Smith, and returning it 79 yards for a TD, putting the Pats in command in the early going: GRADE: C;
III. SPECIAL TEAMS: Credit Stephen Gostkowski with another fine performance, including a clutch 44 yard FG with 16 seconds left in the game to force OT. Punter Ryan Allen should put in for overtime pay, as the Pats' ineptitude on offense caused him to have to punt eight (8) times, for which he averaged 50 yards per kick. Another great job of punt returning by Julian Edelman, who returned three (3) for 58 yards, including a 38 yarder. But, the Pats had trouble containing Jets returner Josh Cribbs, who had three (3) returns for 44 yards...including a 21 yarder: GRADE: B-;
IV. COACHING: What happened at halftime?? Did the Patriots' knock down a few brews? It's disturbing how badly the Pats were outplayed and out-coached in the second half. They had no answers for containing 5'9" slot man Jeremy Kerley, or the Jets' TEs. Picking up 100 yards in penalties didn't help the cause either. But, I'm not going to jump on that horrendous homer call in OT for illegal pushing as the reason why the Pats lost this game. This was a game that the deserved to lose. They were outplayed, out-hit, and out-smarted by a team that wanted to win more than they did. From the coaching staff on down, the Patriots should be ashamed of themselves for losing to the rag-tag Jets: GRADE: F;
V. PLAY OF THE GAME: The Antonio Allen pick on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter turned the game and the momentum over to the Jets;
VI. PLAYER OF THE GAME: Antonio Allen also recorded nine (9) tackles (5 solos) to go along with his back-breaking pick-6.
Here are the game stats: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=331020020
As always, your comments and opinions are welcome. Have a great day, my friends!