By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — We in New England are a broken people.
I’m left with no other conclusion after a 21-point victory by the Patriots on a short week is surely going to be treated like a calamitous display of American football that surely portends complete and total doom for the local team. That’s just how we operate here.
Of course, anybody with eyeballs saw that Tom Brady’s and Josh McDaniels’ offense was not exactly humming on Thursday night. And anybody with a brain knew that it probably wasn’t a good thing for the Patriots to be locked in a 14-14 tie late in the first half against a Giants team that wasn’t good to begin with and was also without its top four offensive weapons.
Throw in a very ugly interception by Brady, and the ingredients were all present for a giant pot of Overreaction Stew to reach a boil. The locals, they were mad.
To that, I have but one question: Is this your first rodeo? Have you just arrived on the scene? Or is it that you just love to light your hair on fire every so often, just to feel alive?
Because, really, if you’ve followed the Patriots before, they’ve shown plenty of warts in the first halves of their seasons. In the case of last year, they showed an abundance of problems late in the season. That didn’t stop them from winning a Super Bowl, as you also might recall.
Too often, mid-game struggles get interpreted as if they’re taking place during the Super Bowl. They’re not. They’re taking place on a windy, lifeless Thursday night. Against the Giants.
Obviously, the shorthanded offense isn’t functioning at a championship level right now.
But there are no championships being won or lost at this exact moment in time.
The fact is, no other NFL team has the brainpower and experience of the Patriots. So while it’s no sure thing that they get every single one of their issues and weaknesses sewn up before January, you’d be hard-pressed to find a team better suited to navigate these perilous waters of being 6-0 with a plus-142 point differential.
Just chill out, already. Would you?
Whatever you choose to do in that regard, please do choose to read the leftover thoughts from the Patriots’ vexing, problematic, and oh-so-terrible 35-14 win over the Giants.
–Julian Edelman is a madman. Actually, more accurately, he is a mad man.
Or. He is mad, man.
It was fairly evident that Edelman was not letting a short week or a shorthanded roster limit his intensity for this game. If anything, the 33-year-old played with extra edge, running around like a bat out of hell. As someone who used to document Edelman’s proclivity to be willing to engage in fisticuffs at the drop of a hat, this version of Edelman had not been seen in years.
Edelman seemed particularly peeved at … every Giants defensive player. It was first apparent when he popped up after his 29-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter and immediately began jawing at linebacker David Mayo.
It continued throughout the night, especially when he got called for a holding penalty, when it looked like Edelman jaunted toward the Giants sideline to tell Pat Shurmur to shush.
That little feud apparently picked up later on, too.
Edelman and Giants coach Pat Shurmur were jawing after Edelman's long catch. Shurmur had come far onto the field for some reason and Edelman was pointing at him with a "What's this guy doing out here…" gesture.
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) October 11, 2019
Pat Shurmur just came so far out onto the field to get that timeout that he and Julian Edelman were only a few yards away. And Edelman was yapping.
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) October 11, 2019
You know what’s a good thing to have? Fist-Fight Edelman is a good thing to have. (Especially because he’s smart enough to not actually punch helmets.)
–In the last two games, by the way, Edelman’s become a monster. He has 17 receptions, 223 yards and a touchdown. He recorded more than 110 receiving yards in consecutive weeks for just the second time of his career (if we include the playoffs). He’s similar to Brady in that it’s kind of remarkable how many different chapters of proving people wrong he’s been able to write.
–This is what it takes to score a passing touchdown against the Patriots’ defense.
Can’t really ask for better coverage on that. Sometimes, things happen during sporting contests.
This was another one of the Giants’ 15 total receptions:
Even when they’re giving up plays, they’re still playing great defense.
–There will be plenty of talk about Tom Brady, because that’s what we do. We talk about the quarterback. And while some people will conclude for the 77th time that he’s too old or washed up or just isn’t right, those people are … wrong. Once again.
To be sure, he had some misfires on Thursday, and his pick to Edelman was a bit baffling.
But I do feel as though people forget what it looks like when a quarterback “loses it.” Yesterday, I wrote about Peyton Manning’s final regular-season start. Go watch that if you want to see a guy “lose it.”
Not a guy who’s too old, not a guy who’s “lost it,” and not a guy who’s not good enough to lead a team to a championship.
Don’t be dumb. Tom Brady is good at playing quarterback.
–Brady will get skewered for throwing no touchdowns, also. But he really doesn’t care. If he cared, he wouldn’t have run those QB sneaks for touchdowns. I’m serious when I say that someone like Manning would not be happy to be on a team with nine rushing touchdowns and 10 passing touchdowns through six weeks. Brady just doesn’t care. He wins games and he gives the national TV bozos something to ruminate on, which is really quite magnanimous of him.
–If you want to watch Brady’s three successful sneaks, you can’t beat Brian Baldinger’s breakdown.
.@Patriots @TomBrady was 3-3 on QB Sneaks and for 2 TD’s. Do you realize how many teams can’t gain a stinking yard every week in the @NFL? Like the @giants on their 3rd play of the game. Just study Brady. He does it nearly every week for 20 years. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/7K49oTABVZ
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) October 11, 2019
It does make you wonder why the sneak went into hibernation for the past year or two, though.
–For the millionth time, yes the Patriots have played bad competition, but YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS TO ANYONE:
The Patriots defense has been on the field for 74 drives this season. The results:
Blocked punt: 2
End of half/game: 6
Missed FG: 1
They’ve scored more touchdowns (5) than they’ve allowed (3).
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 11, 2019
To recap, that’s 74 drives. Three (4 percent) have ended in touchdowns. Two (3 percent) have ended in field goals. Together, five (7 percent) have ended in points for the opposing offense. Sixty-nine (93 percent) have not ended in points for the opposing offense.
The Patriots’ defense, meanwhile, has ended four drives (4 percent) with points of their own, with Kyle Van Noy’s fumble recovery serving as the third defensive touchdown of the season for the Patriots. The Patriots’ punt block team also has two touchdowns, with Chase Winovich’s catch-and-score on Thursday being the most recent.
LONG STORY SHORT: Opponents have mounted 74 drives against the Patriots, and they’ve scored on five of them. The Patriots have scored on six of them.
Goodness. Gracious. Me.
–Can we start a GoFundMe so that we can all pool some money together to get referee Brad Allen a shirt that fits him? Because this is just not happening.
–Bill Belichick once said stats are for losers. But they’re also kind of for winners, too, aren’t they? For all of the “calm down” messaging I shot out earlier, the choppiness of the offense was easy to see on Thursday. And yet, if you looked at the stat sheet, you’d never know it.
Sony Michel finished with 86 yards on 22 carries. Looks good. But those stats don’t show that 15 of those runs went for three yards or fewer, or that he gained zero yards on consecutive carries on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1, two of his seven rushes for zero yards on the night.
Tom Brady finished 31-for-41 for 334 yards. That is better than solid. But it doesn’t account for his numerous misfires on short passes, like this one:
That may have been a throwaway to avoid a pick-six potential, but what about this one?
This one didn’t count (thanks to Janoris Jenkins tackling Julian Edelman mid-route on a fourth-and-7), but it was indicative of the kind of throws Brady was making throughout the night.
Overall, Brady didn’t display his general total control of the offense that he normally shows.
But, hey. Stats!
–Speaking of Belichick, the cameras showed his face when he decided to go for it on fourth down of the opening drive. It was humorous.
That is not the face of a man who is altogether concerned with the New York football Giants.
They ended up stopping the Patriots. Bill probably wasn’t worried about it.
–I’ll never get over the fact that the Giants spent the sixth overall pick of the NFL draft on a quarterback from Duke. From DUKE. He could end up to be a combination of Tom Brady and Joe Montana, and still, I will marvel that they identified a quarterback from DUKE to be their franchise guy.
Did you know that Duke even played football?
What percentage of Americans has ever seen an entire Duke football game, without having wagered on it? Zero? Is it zero?
–The Ben Watson release was big news this week, but I have got a scorcher for you: Pass-catching is not the Patriots’ biggest problem at tight end. No sirree. It’s blocking. And t’s not even close.
Check out Matt LaCosse on the right side of the line on Michel’s failed fourth-down run.
Check out Ryan Izzo on roller skates on the Brady strip-sack.
Losing Rob Gronkowski was always going to hurt. But Dwayne Allen’s departure, too, was an underrated loss.
–Speaking of underrated, this run stuff by Deatrich Wise on second-and-1 on New York’s first drive? Underrated!
That’s just a big strong man football play right there. The Patriots made the third-down stop and forced the early punt, making that fourth-down failure sting a bit less.
–This was a good tweet:
Gunner Olszewski pic.twitter.com/xfXl9KbUcB
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) October 11, 2019
The perfect tweet, some might say.
–Gunner may have made his first career reception (fittingly getting absolutely lit up after making the catch), but it was a bigger night for fellow undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers. Without overstating things, I do believe Meyers made the biggest catch of the evening.
After Duron Harmon’s ridiculous interception (more on that momentarily), the Patriots took over at the Giants’ 20-yard line. They were only leading 7-0 in a game that most people expected them to win by a thousand points. They could have won without a touchdown on this drive, but for the Patriots to really be the Patriots, they needed seven out of this opportunity.
And it looked like they weren’t going to get it, after a near pick at the pylon on first down and then a false start. But on second-and-15 from the 25, Brady found the youngster with whom he worked so well during training camp, connecting beautifully on a back-shoulder throw, picking up 23 yards and setting the Patriots up at the 2-yard line.
The route was good, the timing was good, the reaction was good, and as much as anything, the securing of the pass was outstanding.
Granted, after seemingly hitting it off in training camp, you’d want to see a connection like this being built all year long, not just when the Patriots are all out of wide receivers. Nevertheless, a positive development is a positive development.
Anyways, the Patriots scored a touchdown three plays later. They badly needed that one.
–On Meyers’ other catch, he showed off the type of hand strength that should get you some more looks from Brady going forward:
–Note to everyone panicked about the wide receiver situation: Bill Belichick has a very high batting average on first-round picks, and wide receiver N’Keal Harry will soon be eligible to return to the practice field if the Patriots choose to activate him off IR. While everyone speculates about trades and big names and established Pro Bowlers and whatnot … there is some help on the way.
Watch some N’Keal Harry highlights if you need to. He’s probably going to be pretty useful.
–The Josh Gordon injury was kind of tragic to watch, because you could see it coming. It was just developing so slowly, as he trailed the play, looped around, and then came in from a tough angle to bring down Markus Golden. It’s like it was happening in slow motion.
Here's the Giants defensive touchdown play.
Hopefully Josh Gordon is alright. He went to the medical tent after the play.pic.twitter.com/ecMxRuCzE5
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 11, 2019
While the Patriots can’t afford to sit any receiver at this point, they should probably let Gordon skip the Jets game to give him 16 or so days to recover from that one. Refer to the injury of the aforementioned Harry to see what can happen to a receiver who pushes to get back onto the field too soon.
–OK, so, longtime readers of this column are familiar with the concept of Zero Humans Defense. It’s frankly touching when a play happens with a wide open receiver and a dozen or so dutiful followers excitedly share that they caught this instance of Zero Humans Defense. The people want to see graphics like this:
But if you’re paying close attention, you’ve now seen the rare Zero Humans Offense, where an inexperienced quarterback from a New York team playing in Gillette Stadium throws a pass without any teammate within 20 yards of the landing spot. Luke Falk did it back in Week 3, and Daniel Jones (out of DUKE!) did it on Thursday.
Granted, Jones’ arm was hit a little bit by Danny Shelton, but that pass was intended for absolutely nobody.
–“I definitely could have done that, too.”
–Brandon Bolden has been an extremely valuable football player for the Patriots. He caught a touchdown last week, and he was the goal line back who scored a touchdown this week. But without question, this is the coolest way a football player could ever get noted in the official play-by-play:
R.Dixon punt is BLOCKED by B.Bolden, Center-Z.DeOssie, RECOVERED by NE-C.Winovich at NYG 6. C.Winovich for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Blocked by credit to NE 38-Bolden. Bolden drives NYG 45-N.Stupar backwards to cause the blocked punt.
That’s just the official play-by-play sheet noting for history that you are a man. Pretty sweet.
–The Patriots beat the Giants, who are now 2-4, and the Patriots’ strength of schedule actually increased. It was .217, and it’s now .241.
Anybody with a brain can see that this defense is the real deal, and their utter smothering of every offense they’ve faced shows that they are actually good. Still, it’s almost impossible to imagine a worse slate of opponents to start the season.
Even after the bump to .241 in strength of schedule, the next-closest team in the AFC is Baltimore, which has a .354 strength of schedule. Over in the NFC, the undefeated 49ers have a .250 strength of schedule.
There are many bad teams in the National Football League.
–Speaking of which, it’s a long Jets week. That’s … that’s just great. I’m sure the talk will be measured for the next 10 days.