clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Patriots vs. Jets: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 13-10 victory over the New York Jets.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

As far as I can tell, every single person who ever went through the American educational system had to build a model volcano at some point in their lives. I don't know how it started or why anyone in their right mind would think that having kids build a stupid volcano is in any way preparation for real life, but the model volcano seems to have withstood the test of time and remains one of the few school-related activities that kids, parents, and grandparents all have in common. Come to think of it, maybe that's why they still do it: to bridge the generational gap.

My time for making a model volcano was in 3rd Grade. This was back in the late 80s, so there was no internet to copy off of or episodes of Breaking Bad to get some chemistry lessons from, meaning it was up to me and my still developing but obviously feeble brain (the plus side of having no internet, of course, is that I knew how to go outside and entertain myself. Plus, I was still allowed to play outside on the blacktop during recess, and if someone skinned their knee playing touch football there weren't 30 parents trying to get football banned from all schools statewide). The concept of combining baking soda and vinegar was still a cool one in my eyes, and I figured with a little bit of red food coloring, I could make some spewing lava that was right on par with whatever little Abby G was going to be showing the class. Just as every school has a volcano making project, every school has an Abby G. Brilliant, organized, and about as annoying as it gets. Her projects were always perfect, always on time, and completely devoid of the various rips, cheese dust remnants, and wrinkles that always seemed to make their way onto mine. Well not this time. This time, my volcano was going to blow everyone away - literally and figuratively.

Presentation day came, and we all brought our volcanoes into school (thinking about it now, can you imagine what would happen if a class full of kids brought baking soda, vinegar, and various other chemicals into school today? Every teacher and administrator would be fired for supporting terrorism and it would be a national scandal). I had worked all weekend on mine, having decided to mold the cone out of clay on top of a small piece of plywood covered in green felt. I wanted to make sure the sides were thick enough and high enough to support the huge magma eruption that I had planned, so I really stacked that clay on good. It took me a few tries to figure out how to get that tapered peak with the concave bowl, as my first few volcano attempts came out looking like giant soda cans, but I eventually got it. It took me until late Sunday night and I had to skip both America's Funniest Home Videos and its bastard stepchild America's Funniest People, but I finished. My volcano was ready to go.

Looking around the room at the other kids' projects, I felt pretty good. Sure, I wasn't the only one using the ol' baking soda and vinegar trick, but my volcano was on par with a fair number of the other kids whose parents didn't do it for them (there is a special circle of hell reserved for kids whose parents did their projects for them. I'm convinced of it). I didn't have the prettiest volcano - that honor of course went to Abby G, who had papier mache'd herself a three foot tall exact replica of Mount Vesuvius that spouted colored water out of a miniature pressure pump in the bowl that made the whole thing look like a mini version of a Las Vegas fountain - but I didn't have the ugliest one, either. I was right in the middle of the curve where I belonged.

The only problem, of course, is that I had forgotten to take into account how long it takes clay to dry when you really pile it on thick. The outside of my volcano was, for the most part, hard and crusty, but just beneath the surface things were as soft, malleable, and absorbent as ever. So of course, when my turn to present came and I poured my vinegar into my bowl, it was almost immediately sucked right into the clay like some kind of smelly vortex. I tried pouring a little more, only to get the same results. I was getting low on vinegar by this point, so I ultimately called an audible and just dumped the baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring into the volcano all at once. The result was an Alka-Seltzer-esque fizz, a short burst of red, and then a whole lotta nothing. I slunk back to my desk and sat down.

Grades came the next day. I wasn't expecting much; after all, volcanoes don't absorb lava, they spew it forth with the fury of a thousand suns. So I had pretty much resigned myself to my fate of a big, fat check minus - the 3rd grade equivalent of a death sentence. No Nintendo for me that weekend. No pack of Garbage Pail Kids cards either, as my allowance was as good as gone. That little minus was going to set me back weeks, if not months.

But I got a check. A nice, normal, well-drawn check. And next to that check, my teacher had written "good effort! Maybe next time you'll do better." And while I never really did any better, throughout both 3rd Grade and pretty much my entire life up to this point, I learned a valuable lesson that day: sometimes it's perfectly OK to just skate by.

And that's the grade I have for the 2013 Patriots at this early stage in the season. The clay might not be dry, the explosion might be little more than a bubbly fizzle, and there may be some much prettier looking projects out there, but a check is a check is a check, and it doesn't really matter how you get it. The Patriots now sit at 2-0 with both of those wins coming in the division, and that's what's important.

You know what else is important? Getting a good night's sleep after a Pats game. If you don't you end up with long, rambling, incoherent rants about volcanoes instead of just getting to the Fan Notes like everyone wants.

  • What an awful, awful opening jingle for Thursday Night Football. I'm glad to be welcome in your city, but you only need to say it once, thanks.
  • I never thought I'd see the day when the key to victory against the Patriots is to double-team Julian Edelman.
  • I'm seeing elements of Jim Caldwell in Geno Smith; just an expressionless, blank stare no matter what's going on or when the camera pans to him.
  • Skinny pissed Rex isn't nearly as funny as fat pissed Rex. Angry fat men are ALWAYS funny. I know this from experience.
  • Edelman was WIDE open on that first quarter overthrow. Not often you see a Tommy B fumble and a Tommy B overthrow in back-to-back weeks.
  • WELCOME TO THE NFL AARON DOBSON! That aren't going to get a bigger layup TD reception for the rest of your career. Don't get used to that.Sure am glad I benched Dobson in my fantasy league this week.
  • I can understand the strategy behind not rushing too many guys to prevent the scramble and keep a linebacker in the Spy role...but if the straight four man rush is going to give the quarterback 4 or 5 seconds back there, then it's time to try something else.
  • As it turned out, that "something else" was running a lot of inside stunt plays with Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones. Smith had a hard time reading the blocking assignments off of the stunt, and both of Jones's sacks were set up by a nice inside move.
  • Watching Dont'a Hightower trying to cover a Go Route is like watching a Scooby Doo chase scene.
  • The first passes to Kenbrell Thompkins were thrown into spots where it looks like Thompkins should have read the coverage, broken off the route, and moved towards the ball. That kind of awareness will come with time, but to be honest there just isn't a lot of time for a slow learning curve.
  • 14 years of left-footed punters for Bill Belichick as coach of the Patriots. I had no idea.
  • This new strategy of "let the receiver make the catch and then force the fumble" sure beats that "let the receiver make the catch and run down the field for a huge gain" gameplan that they employed last year.
  • It isn't a trend just yet...but anyone who isn't at least a little concerned about New England's red-zone production needs to pay better attention. Gronk- where are you?
  • Seriously - how the hell did the Pats go from possibly the most feared TE duo of all time to zero TEs in a matter of a few months? Oh right...injuries and murder. Yep, that'll do it.
  • How long before the "QB hit zone" is from the top of the jersey number to the bottom of the jersey number?
  • Is it me, or does Vince Wilfork look slow and a little behind the ball? I'm gonna go ahead and chalk this up to the late summer heat for now.
  • Do Seahawks fans offer workshops on how to cheer? How much would it cost to import a few thousand of them to Foxboro for an afternoon to give a talk on being a good fan? Why Gillette Stadium is always so quiet will forever remain a mystery to me, as most Bostonians forge their entire life philosophies around being loud, obnoxious jerks.
  • I wonder how many more weeks I'll be referencing "missed opportunities" in these notes. Two for two so far!
  • There's really no way around it: this offense is very, very limited. The 3 WR sets help to spread the defense out a bit, but there just isn't a whole lot of talent on that side of the ball. Other than that first drive, New York looked better on offense than New England did. More consistent with the run game, some high percentage passes, and plenty of time for Geno Smith to get some confidence and develop a rhythm. Perfect strategy for the Jets yesterday, and it worked extremely well.
  • Vince Wilfork was single covered by Vladimir Ducasse on that 1st and 15 that resulted in a Stephen Hill 1st down, and Wilfork couldn't shake him - not even close. I can't remember the last time I saw Wilfork get blown up by single coverage.
  • Kyle Arrington is having as 2013 for the ages so far.
  • Again, far too early to tell, but this simply might be the way that Patriots games go this year. Sloppy, low-scoring games where the defense does enough to keep the team in it and Tommy B works his fourth quarter magic. Wait a minute...that strategy sounds familiar...DAMMIT TEBOW WHAT DID YOU DO??!!
  • Oh man...Aaron Dobson, that can't happen. That just can't happen. You could have had 2 layup TDs on your first two catches. I didn't know I could scream profanities that loud after he dropped that one.
  • Notice how that football bounced off Dobson's helmet and then went to the ground? That's what most passes who collide with a player's helmet do, right? They don't just magically stick there for seemingly no reason whatsoever, right?
  • Hopefully Matt Patricia is teaching Chandler Jones to rush the passer while looking directly up into the air, as that seems to be what most offensive lineman enjoy doing to him.
  • While I'm 100% positive that 10 men on the bench are absolutely terrified by a pissed off Tommy B, I find it very comforting.
  • I know his stat line doesn't show it, but Brady had a very solid game last night. Exploited the defense, found the holes in the zone, read the coverages, and hit the open man. The only problem is that his receivers did none of these things.
  • Isn't Daniel Fells still a free agent? Why not bring him back?
  • How sad is it that if Vince Wilfork and I got on a treadmill and started running, I'd throw up and pass out way before he did?
  • I fear I may have doomed Stevan Ridley for 2013 by drafting him in two fantasy leagues.
  • least Aaron Dobson knows how to get open, right? Anyone?
  • Is the NFL Network REALLY doing a "A Football Life" about Darelle Revis? Shouldn't they wait until a player retires to do that?
  • I may be a little too into the Patriots and my obsession with the NFL may be unhealthy...but at least I've never framed a game ticket. Not a good look, Gary the NFL Ticket Exchange guy.
  • Touchdown or not - that was one helluva catch. KT. And honestly, it was almost worth the incompletion to watch Rex Ryan freak out over it. It's just too bad you can't catch it when it hits you in the numbers.
  • Tommy B was harnessing his inner Joe Flacco last night with all those deep sideline routes. Now if only our receivers can harness their inner Anquan Boldin and actually catch them.
  • Would anyone have been opposed to Tedy Bruschi and Willie McGinest suiting up instead of receiving a halftime honor?
  • When your receivers are having trouble hanging onto the ball, a torrential downpour is probably the last thing you want to see.
  • Along those lines: I still remain staunchly in the camp that says that there is nothing better than going to a live NFL game - nothing. The atmosphere, the intensity, the enormity of the experience - it just can't be duplicated. But weather like that when you're home in your recliner with no pants on, free beer, and a huge HDTV showing every single play in perfect detail makes it harder to state my case.
  • Brandon Spikes came in on a blitz to open up the 3rd quarter and Bilal Powell blew right by him like he stepped on a banana peel.
  • I fear I may have doomed Stevan Ridley for 2013 by drafting him in two fantasy leagues.
  • Catch a goddam pass, Dobson!
  • Chris Ivory isn't an elite running back, right?
  • How many times are they going to show that chart of how many receivers Brady has lost this year? WE GET IT.
  • As the 4th quarter got underway, I realized that it was going to take a big play from the defense to give the Patriots a shot to put the game away. Luckily for us, we got three. And while the last pick of the day was just a poorly thrown pass right into Aqib Talib's hands, both earlier interceptions were the result of solid coverage and excellent reads.
  • I don't really know what to make of the defense yet, as neither New York nor Buffalo's offense is all that explosive. I guess we'll find out in a few weeks when we head down to Atlanta.
  • There are few things more annoying than Santonio Holmes' first down ball drop. Dude...nobody cares. Your team is awful and you're a shell of your former self.
  • Heyyyy Dobson caught a pass!
  • Heyyyy Dobson didn't fight for a 50/50 ball and ended up on his ass!
  • Even though the Patriots led at every single point of this game, from the second quarter on I'd be lying if I said I was even remotely confident that the Patriots were going to pull this one out. I kept thinking back to last year and that eight minute drive against Miami and how great that was, and how there was just no way this offense would be able to duplicate that - yet. But we'll get there.
  • Still waiting for Julian Edelman to throw his first NFL pass.
  • Speaking of Edelman - thank you for being you. You bailed us out last night in a major way and there's no way around it.
  • I fear I may have doomed Stevan Ridley for 2013 by drafting him in two fantasy leagues.
  • How come the loudest the crowd got all night last night was on the boos from the Wilkerson injury?
  • We're going to be reading a lot of "Are the Patriots vulnerable?" articles this week? To be honest, the answer to that question is a resounding "yes." But the good thing about being vulnerable is that you're still capable of defending yourself - as evidenced by that little fight at the end of the game.
  • Was anyone else a little nervous that Tommy B was going to fumble the final kneeldown?
  • 2-0 on the year and 2-0 in the division. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.