By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — You can look at the Jets any way you’d like. There are millions of angles.
I choose this one.
The team was coming off its bye. For two weeks, the Jets knew that they’d be playing against the Patriots in Foxboro. They had two weeks to mentally and physically prepare for this football game. After following up their OT win over the Titans with somewhat of a nail-biter of a loss in London to Atlanta, the Jets had some reason to feel halfway decently about themselves. And with the Patriots skidding and dealing with a number of injuries, winning Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium was conceivable and believable.
Yet with all that time to prepare, Robert Saleh’s team came out like this:
–Allowed 12-yard run on first play from scrimmage, compounded by a defensive holding penalty.
–Allowed four-play, 65-yard touchdown drive to start the game.
–Went three-and-out on first offensive series, going run-run-pass and taking a sack on third down.
–Allowed seven-play, 53-yard touchdown drive to fall behind 14-0.
–Missed field goal.
–Allowed 41-yard field goal drive to fall behind 17-0.
That is the anatomy of playing a football game that you give yourself zero chance of winning. Falling behind so far so quickly eliminates any bit of the game plan that might have involved running the ball of exhibiting patience, and doing it against a 2-4 Patriots team after having an extra week of prep? It’s unfathomable.
Maybe Robert Saleh figures it out and becomes a reliable NFL head coach. But with his team now 1-5 with a minus-95 point differential, he’s making an absolute stinker of a first impression.
Sorry to bust out the “S” word like that. I know it’s a family website. But sometimes you’ve got to speak the truth.
Let’s hit some leftover thoughts from the 54-13 Patriots victory.
–The Brandon Bolden Game. Plain and simple. The Brandon Bolden Game.
It was a bit surprising — though not totally shocking — to see Rhamondre Stevenson’s name on the inactives list 90 minutes before kickoff. The rookie just had his best game as a pro vs. Dallas, with 62 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on just 18 offensive snaps. But apparently his pass protection issues were enough to sit him for this game in favor of J.J. Taylor.
It also opened the door for Brandon Bolden to turn into James White for an afternoon.
On a day when Mac Jones threw for over 300 yards, Bolden led the team in both receptions (6) and receiving yards (79).
Consider that those 79 yards are more receiving yards than Bolden had in five of his first eight NFL seasons … combined.
Brandon Bolden had 79 receiving yards yesterday. That's more than he's had in five of his eight previous seasons … combined.
(2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018: 54 receiving yards in 72 games.)
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) October 25, 2021
Now, this performance wasn’t completely unheard-of, as Bolden did have a four-catch, 84-yard game against Denver in 2015. That, however, was not The Brandon Bolden Game. It was The Chris Harper Game That Cost The Patriots Home-Field Advantage In The AFC Championship Game And Likely Cost Them A Super Bowl, Too. (Bit wordy, that game.) Those numbers were also heavily influenced by one play, a 63-yard catch-and-run for a score.
This game on Sunday was more about death by a thousand Bolden cuts. We’ll surely be telling our grandchildren about The Brandon Bolden Game.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 24, 2021
–It was probably a bad omen for the Jets when they had this scenario on the opening drive …
… and allowed it to go for 28 yards.
To be fair, tackling is hard. But Marcus Maye should be getting more than a fingernail on Jonnu Smith.
–The Patriots had some questionable tackling to start the game, too. Jalen Mills missed one on Elijah Moore on a quick pass to the outside, turning what could have been a loss into a 13-yard gain. Kyle Van Noy missed what would have been a tackle for a loss a few plays later. But on that same drive, with the Jets looking to score points, Mills made up for his whiff and helped make the Jets’ eventual field goal attempt to be a bit longer.
Seems like a fun play to make in a football game.
–I genuinely have no idea how Zach Wilson did NOT get hurt on this play …
… but then DID get hurt on this play:
Here's the play where Zach Wilson got hurt. Here's what he said about the injury postgame. "I think my toe kind of just got stuck in the ground and Judon just kind of fell on it with all of his weight and that kind of twisted it. Felt a pop there…" #Jets pic.twitter.com/SVKN24SpQA
— Mike Giardi (@MikeGiardi) October 24, 2021
What’s even MORE incredible is that in the one play that was sandwiched between those two hits, he made a rather impressive play to convert a third-and-4:
Last time out against the Patriots, he had four picks, but he also delivered the two best passes of the game. This game wasn’t a big highlight reel for him, but that pass sure was sweet.
It’s anybody’s guess if the kid actually pans out at the NFL level. Most don’t. But it’s easy to see why the Jets fell in love with his talent. Fortunately his injury will only keep him out a few weeks.
–It only took seven weeks, though, for the Jets’ ingenious plan of having a guy named MIKE WHITE serve as the only other QB on the team. Mike White. How is that a real guy? Seems like an auto-generated Madden backup when you reach year nine of franchise mode. Mike White, played at South Florida and Western Kentucky, drafted 171st a few years ago, never played in the NFL.
Did Mike White play well? I suppose by Mike White standards, he did. He was 20-for-32 for 202 yards with a touchdown and two picks, which is nice. My personal favorite play came on his very-confident first-down gesture when Ty Johnson didn’t even make it back to the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-2 run up the gut:
Life is all about being positive. You have to appreciate that level of positivity out of … a guy named MIKE WHITE.
–Mac Jones did the same thing, but he wasn’t wrong. Makes a big difference.
Looked like a one-on-one tackling drill from high school practice right there. Damien Harris > Jamien Sherwood.
–Cool Sports Photo Alert:
–This play had me wistful for the days of debating whether the Patriots were RUNNING UP THE SCORE so often.
.@BournePoly11 going DEEP!
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 24, 2021
Those were the days. I’d pay upwards of seven dollars for the chance to have one of those debates again.
–Here’s where things stand for the Patriots. They absolutely demolished the Jets, which is good for them. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have any more games against the Jets on their schedule. Considering the Jets account for half of their eight wins since the start of October last year, that’s too bad.
But even though their opponent this week was abysmal, there was plenty from that game to build on. The cohesiveness of the offensive line — with Mike Onwenu at right tackle and Ted Karras at left guard — was certainly the most significant. When Mac Jones isn’t getting pummeled or having to run for his life every fifth snap, the offense can actually function.
And now we’ll get to see how much of what happened on Sunday will be transferable to games against real opponents. A two-week road trip — at the Chargers, and at the Panthers — will be a worthy test. (Though the Panthers benching Sam Darnold on Sunday in favor of … P.J. Walker while getting blown out by the … Giants? That might have been the official moment that the Panthers turned back into a pumpkin.) Then they’ll host the Browns in Week 10.
They’re currently 3-4. If they come out of the next three weeks at 5-5, then they’ll have a season. At 4-6, it’ll be a bit more difficult, as they still have Tennessee, Indy (on the road), and a pair of Buffalo games on the docket. And if it’s 3-7, then this Jets game will ultimately mean nothing, and the season will once again be toast before Thanksgiving.
That’s what lies ahead for the Patriots. If you want to pretend like you know exactly how it will play out, then go ahead. Realistically, it could go a million different ways. After feeling as if Sunday’s game to the Jets was actually one that was losable for the Patriots, I’ll take a break for a few weeks from the prognostication game.