BOSTON (CBS) — The Jets are an absolute joke, a train wreck of magnificent proportions, a spectacle of ineptitude that’s fascinating to watch.
So what does that make the Patriots?
For four full quarters, the Patriots matched the Jets in futility, engaged in a 60-minute dogfight with perhaps the worst team in the league. No, these were not the Patriots at their healthiest, as Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola were both out due to injury, but this is football. Health is never a guarantee, and it can never be an excuse.
The Jets can’t fight to win and can’t win a fight, yet the Patriots never could separate themselves. They need to be better. Going 4-for-18 on third down, dropping passes every drive and lacking the ability to do just about anything stained the win from a cosmetic standpoint and introduced plenty of doubt into the region about this football team.
In a couple of weeks, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez will be on the opposing sideline, and Geno Smith won’t be there to bail out Bill Belichick’s team.
The Patriots have a long way to go. It’s much too soon to bury them and say they’ll never get there, but they better get moving fast.
There’s a lot to go through, so let’s take a look at all of the leftover thoughts from the Patriots’ much-too-close 13-10 win over the Jets.
–A lot was made and will continue to be made about Tom Brady’s outbursts at his rookie receivers. While ideally the quarterback should not be hurling F bombs every which way when he’s irritated, it’s impossible to not understand his frustration. Imagine being one of the very best to ever do what you do. Maybe he’s the best, maybe he’s the fourth-best, but that doesn’t matter exactly right now. Imagine you are on this very small list of people who have been able to perform your skill at the highest level in the history of that field, and you know full and well that you have a finite window to use this skill. To fully utilize this skill, you need people around you who are professionals. They don’t need to be perfect; they just need to be capable. But instead, you are surrounded by amateurs. You would be pretty upset, I imagine.
Essentially, Bill Belichick is asking Rembrandt to use finger paint on construction paper, and no matter how masterful the artist may be, the results just aren’t going to come without the proper tools. That’s not to say those guys can’t get better, but these games do count. There’s really not any time to waste in this league, and that’s especially true for the 36-year-old quarterback who is heading to the Hall of Fame. It looks like Belichick pretended it was Halloween and allowed a trio of guys to dress up in full Patriots gear and pretend to be NFL wide receivers.
If I were Brady, I’d be frustrated too.
(Then I’d admire the moat around my mansion and declare imaginary war on my neighbors. You’ll never cross my moat, foes!)
–Make no mistake: The Patriots’ defense played great. They sacked the quarterback four times, they picked off the quarterback three times, they forced two fumbles, recovered one and made 12 of 18 third-down stops. You can’t take that away from them, it’s just … isn’t that what they should be doing against an offense like that? At times, it looked like Geno Smith had never even watched football before, with the way he stood in the pocket seemingly with no plan to ever throw the football. As Mike Mayock awesomely said, you can’t just stand there and burp the baby. You have to throw it at some point. There were other times when he missed his receiver by 10 yards, and there were times he looked utterly perplexed as to how to perform his job.
It’s good that the defense didn’t fail against that offense, but it’s hard to heap praise on the D for essentially doing what they were supposed to do.
–Plus, maybe the defense would receiver higher marks if Chandler Jones didn’t put forth the worst effort in sack dance history. What was that, man?
–It goes without saying that Aaron Dobson had a few drops, so I won’t say it. I’ll just show it.
Wasn’t looking for the football while running his route. Dropped.
This young man had the nerve to get up and celebrate a first down after he made a catch in the third quarter. Buddy, you dropped 45 straight passes. Maybe hold off on the celebration a little bit?
–But hey, at least Dobson picked up the first down. Kenbrell Thompkins showboated with a first down signal on a play when he was tackled a full yard short of the sticks.
–Brady’s outbursts got all the attention, but I personally most got a kick out of his “I can’t believe I’m throwing passes to fullbacks” face.
It was the same face Brady made in that video where the store employee keeps making fun of his Boston accent. “I’m not from Boston, I’m from California, I’m throwing to freaking fullbacks!”
–I don’t ever sit here and tell fans what to do — except for the time I called everyone stupid for booing Adam Vinatieri, and I stand by that — but if you’re going to boo an injured player for “faking” an injury, you should at least understand the rules first. Did the booing fans really think that teams get free timeouts in the final two minutes of a game with a “fake” injury?
At that point though, I’d venture to guess there weren’t more than 10,000 fans left in the stadium, and they were tired, wet and cranky, so I’m not going to stand on a soapbox and chastise fans for showing no class like Mike Mayock did.
–Hey, speaking of Mike Mayock, nice vest, bro. You look like Aladdin.
–Brad Nessler also referred to Julian Edelman as “Danny Edelman,” which is just perfect. If you’re a white skill guy on the Patriots, your name is either Wes or Danny. That’s just how it’s going to be.
–In all seriousness though, Edelman was immense. He touched the ball about as often as he did in college … when he was the quarterback and touched the ball every play. He was Tom Brady’s only reliable option all night, and even though the Jets knew the ball was going to No. 11, they still couldn’t cover him.
As great as Edelman played, he’s not the guy you want carrying the offense. He doesn’t have the physical build to hold up as a 13-catch, six punt return, one rush kind of guy. But on this night, he got the Patriots a win, and he has more than a week to recover.
–Tom Brady finished the night 19-for-39 for 185 yards and a touchdown. The 185-yard total was the 32nd-lowest Brady’s had in his 176 starts (Week 1 of 2008 excluded from that list). In the 2007-and-beyond era of the Patriots, Brady’s only thrown for fewer than 185 yards in a game six times. One came in 2007 against the Jets, when he threw for just 140 yards with no touchdowns, the only time that season he did not find the end zone. Another low-yardage performance came in a December game in Buffalo in 2009, and the other four all came in the 2010 season, which was the year Brady threw just four interceptions. The point? Well, there might not be one, other than to say Brady’s had games like this before, and it hasn’t necessarily been an indication that the season is doomed from an offensive standpoint.
–It wasn’t a banner night for Patriots fans, but this was definitely the highlight of their night.
–Isn’t there somebody at the Papa John’s corporation who has the clout and job security to say, “You know what, Papa J, you’re just weird on TV and you need to stop being in commercials”?
–There weren’t a ton of plays that I would say I loved from the Patriots on Thursday night, but the Dobson touchdown play did bring back some fond memories of the days when Charlie Weis used to make a living by fooling the pants off the other team.
Brady broke the huddle and then sprinted to the line of scrimmage, leaving the Jets perplexed as to why Brady wasn’t standing up and making his calls. The Jets must have assumed the Patriots were trying to sneak a running play in to pick up the two yards to move the chains, because not-a-one of them even contemplated covering the only receiver on the entire right side of the field.
Brady also used a little jump pass to make sure that one got over all the linemen and linebackers. Did he learn that one from Tim Tebow?
(No, he didn’t learn anything from Tebow.)
–We had our first premature Bon Joviation of the season on Kenbrell Thompkins’ non-touchdown that was initially ruled a catch. It was obviously not a catch, but you have to admire the effort.
I thought Thompkins had a better game than last week, but he’s still caught just six of the 21 passes thrown his way through two games. Josh Boyce must just be like, “Um, coach, can I try? Pretty please?”
–It’s surprised me to see Thompkins not perform better because he and Brady looked to have that sixth-sense type of connection in the preseason, where each knew what the other was thinking, but that’s disappeared completely in the regular season so far. You could see it on the opening drive, when the Patriots were bailed out by a pass interference call on Antonio Cromartie on a play when Thomkins ran the wrong route on the second play of the game.
–Why was Mark Sanchez on the sideline dispensing advice to the rookie QB? “Here’s what you want to do, Geno, OK? You want to burn a second-half timeout in the opening minutes of the third quarter, and then, when they least expect it, BOOM! Call another timeout in the opening minutes of the fourth! Also throw three picks. You’re welcome.”
–The Jets had a touchdown taken away via replay review too, and I like that the call was reversed. There was not necessarily conclusive evidence in the sense that there wasn’t clear video of the ball on the ground, but it was obvious that Clyde Gates did not possess the ball. The referee is not always allowed to use logic when conclusive video evidence is absent. Call me crazy, but I like when logic is involved.
–Who knew when the game started that Aqib Talib’s left ankle would play such a prominent role? First, it kicked the ball out of Stephen Hill’s possession for a key fumble.
Then, Nick Mangold dive-bombed at his ankle as he stepped out of bounds on the game-clinching interception, igniting a mini-fracas that saw D’Brickashawk Ferguson display his genius by using his fist to punch a facemask. which is essentially a bunch of metal bars wrapped in some plastic.
Yes, Talib should have just gone down or out of bounds rather than try desperately to score a selfish touchdown, but for Mangold to say “I thought it was a good tackle” is complete garbage.
“Good tackles” are made in the field of play, not five feet out of bounds.
–Mangold also said he was surprised that Belichick got so “heated,” and that he thought the coach would have more “poise.” Apparently Mangold didn’t watch the AFC Championship Game last year. Belichick is well-aware of how bad that defense can be when Talib is injured, hence his reaction.
–After the big fight, the Patriots should have run a fake kneel-down and thrown a touchdown pass to Julian Edelman. Then gone for two.
–Had the Patriots done that, maybe we would’ve seen some fire in Rex Ryan after the game. I miss the old Rex, who’d thunder around at 350 pounds as the cockiest guy on earth. Now he just seems like a defeated man. There’s no fun in that.
Seriously, who is this guy?
–Here’s your weekly reminder that football is a very, very painful game to play.
–I know I said earlier not to give the defense too much credit as a whole, but that doesn’t mean Vince Wilfork doesn’t deserve to be recognized for his great play that led to Talib’s first interception.
On a third-and-4 from the New England 27-yard line, Wilfork did not rush into the backfield but instead stayed at the line in a sort of spy role on Smith.
This is what Geno was looking at, and he might have thought he had a chance to get to the sideline and run for at least a first down and perhaps even a touchdown.
Instead, the speedy quarterback who ran a 4.59-second 40 at the combine could not get around Skinny Vinny, and he was forced to pull up and make an ill-advised throw behind a covered receiver. For good measure, Wilfork got in a good pop on Smith after he released the ball.
It was a huge play, too, as it took the potential tying points off the board, because the Jets were in field goal range.
Vince Wilfork, still the MVP of the defense, and still arguably the team’s best all-around athlete.
–Aqib Talib caught two passes. Only two offensive players can say they caught more.
–If you thought that game was ugly, you should get excited, because next week, the Patriots get to play the team that lost to the Jets! All right!