In football timing is everything. From the timing between a wide receiver and quarterback on a simple passing route to the timing needed for a franchise to flourish with multiple stars hitting their prime at the same time, it is ultimately what determines the short term and long term success of a team.
On Sunday, the Patriots had no timing whatsoever. Tom Brady finished with a completion percentage below 50 percent for the third time this year. To put that into perspective, before this season the last time Brady completed less than half his passes was in 2009, week 15 on the road in Buffalo. Coincidentally, he also completed less than half of his passes in a week two loss to the New York Jets in 2009.
Every year there is a big uproar about the formula to beat Brady and the Patriots. It always seems that the Jets are the best at executing this wildly complex formula. It consists of a good pass rush, and good coverage on the wide receivers. Excuse me for not thinking this groundbreaking formula can be used to stop any quarterback, never mind one of the all time greats.
By getting in his face and making him uncomfortable in the pocket the Jets disrupted Brady’s timing, leading to a weak performance. The young wide receivers don’t seem to be at a comfortable level with Brady yet, and it is hard to imagine they will be given much more time to grow. Rob Gronkowski returned and hauled in eight passes for 114 yards, which looks a lot better when you ignore that he was targeted for 17 of Brady’s 46 attempts.
A deeper look shows that Gronkowski was on the field for only 51 of 79 offensive plays. Therefore, Brady threw to Gronkowski 33 percent of the time he was on the field. That shows is a lack of balance, and perhaps a growing lack in trust for his other targets.
The Patriots offense has reached a critical point in their season. Danny Amendola is permanently on the mend, Gronkowski has just returned. It appears that Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson have plateaued. The wildcard on offense is Stevan Ridley, a guy who is built like a workhorse, has produced like a workhorse in the past, but has not been treated like a workhorse this season.
Ridley enters week 8 with a 4.1 YPC (Yards Per Carry) on the year, and that is including two duds against the Jets in week two and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week three. If you remove those games Ridley has a stud-like 4.8 YPC.
With 11 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown (his third in the last two games), Ridley might have warranted more touches than he received. It was poor timing for Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels to let Brady loose. McDaniels is notorious for attempting to dictate the pace of the game, but in this case perhaps it was in his best interest to limit Brady’s attempts and feed the ball to Ridley.
As for the pushing penalty called on rookie defensive lineman Chris Jones, there isn’t much to say about it. Was it a penalty, as stated by the rules? Absolutely. Was it bad timing for the refs to call it for the first time ever? Probably. The Patriots were made an example of, which is tough to swallow, but with reports that the teams were informed that officials would be keeping an eye out for this exact call leading up to week seven more of the blame must be placed on the coaching staff.
It is only loss number two, and a division loss to a non-threatening Jets team hurts only because it lets Jets fans have something to smile about for once.
Things That Made Sunday’s Loss Hurt Less
– Peyton Manning shrinking under the spotlight and showing the world that somethings never change.
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