I don’t have a lot to say about this one. I’ll have more thoughts coming out next Friday before the Patriots Week 3 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and perhaps by then we’ll see the returns of Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski, or maybe Deion Branch wants to keep playing…or something.
But right now, I’m fried, I’m exhausted, It’s raining, I’m pissy, and I’ve been trading sad one-word texts for the last hour with Pops, who at this moment may be pounding down a pint of Half Baked and a bottle of Wild Turkey, mumbling about the glory days of Troy Brown to no one in particular.
This was the ugliest win in my lifetime as a New England Patriots fan. Hands down. Even more so than last week, it barely feels like a win.
So here are a few incoherent gut reactions:
1. The offensive inexperience shows: I know I’ve been going on and on about being patient with the rookie receivers, and that once they develop their mental connection with Brady everything will start working faster and better. But my god, was tonight wildly frustrating. Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson combined for 5 receptions on 17 targets, dropped pass after dropped pass after dropped pass. Thompkins’ drops were a little more understandable (mostly due to Jets secondary pressure) but his routes have to get crisper.
Watching Dobson was beyond painful, mostly because we see how much of a game changer he could be. Several times, Dobson beat his coverage, using his extreme athleticism to get open, but either dropped the ball, got lost in his route, or couldn’t get his head around in time.
I want to say this will get better. But I don’t even know anymore.
2. Julian Edelman is for real: 13 receptions, 78 yards, 18 targets. He had one of the more athletic diving catches I’ve seen in a while, while also averaging 12 yards per punt return, which was key in tonight’s rainy conditions. Dude works hard. If the Patriots can somehow get Amendola and Gronkowski back on the field and healthy, they may actually have a shot at a dependable receiving corps. But I fear Edelman just isn’t enough on his own.
3. Van Riddles struggles: I know the Jets front line is tough. But on a night when his team desperately needed him to have a good game, Ridley couldn’t deliver, only going 40 yards on 16 carries. Take out one nice 9 yard run, and that’s 31 yards on 15 carries. At least he didn’t fumble (banging head on table repeatedly).
4. A solid defensive performance: If there’s one silver lining to be found, it’s here. The Patriots front line put together 4 sacks (two from a splendid looking Chandler Jones), 9 QB hits, and 7 tackles for loss. The secondary, while beaten often by Geno Smith, managed to accrue 3 interceptions, including a game-winning one by Aqib Talib. The only disappointments were the linebackers, who allowed Jets’ running backs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell (I mean, seriously, come on) to pick up 100 yards rushing on 25 attempts, and were often beaten in coverage.
5. Angry Tom has gotten old: This is somewhat heretical. I love Tom Brady. He, along with David Ortiz and Paul Pierce, is one of the most influential sports figures in my lifetime. He’s without a doubt one of the Top 5 QBs of all time. And, yes, I wondered if we might see Angry Tom this season. But tonight, his yelling/staring down/red in the face routine, especially towards Thompkins and Dobson, perhaps did more harm than good. Yes, he’s a perfectionist. Yes, he wants to win his way. But I can’t imagine that his temper tantrums helped boost the morale of the rookie wide receivers or help develop a mental connection with either of them. The two wideouts have been criticized by fans and media alike, lord knows they don’t need their quarterback eviscerating them constantly. Yes, Tom Brady is a champion and yes he’s clearly uncomfortable with the lack of talent around him. But he’s supposed to be a leader and a captain. And it doesn’t look like his motivational tactics are working so far.
That’s it. I have no more to say. The Patriots at least have a long week to prepare for the Buccaneers and, more importantly, to rest their wounds and keep running passing plays in practice. It was an ugly win, but Patriots fans will absolutely take it.