I know that there are a lot of folks out there who have decided that watching an NFL game on TV has far surpassed any experience that can be gained from going to a stadium in person. With every contest streaming in HD, live fantasy updates, up to the minute replays and analysis, and that coveted yellow first down line, there is plenty of ammo in the gun of anyone who wants to make a case that it just isn't worth the money or the time anymore to schlep out to a game live - especially when said schlep takes you all the way down the two-lane road that is Route 1 on the way to the remote plot of land known as One Patriot Place.
But for my money, nothing will ever come close to the feeling you get when you attend a Patriots game live. The sounds, the sights, the smells, the atmosphere - you can't put a price on it. Well you could, I guess, and it would likely be somewhere in the middle three figures - but at the end of the day, being able to go to a Pats game live is one of the reasons I wake up five days a week and go to work: so I can make money to piss away on things that I enjoy. No point dying rich. And that I got to watch the Pats take out the Jets in person, in a huge divisional matchup, just adds more fuel to the already well out of control fire that is my Patriots fandom. If you prefer to sit at home and watch the game, more power to you - but just know that you're missing out. Gillette is an experience unlike any other.
The negative, of course, of seeing a game live is that it makes writing these Fan Notes a lot harder than it is when I'm sitting in my skivvies in my recliner watching the game on the big screen. When I'm watching the game on TV, I can pause, rewind, evaluate, break down film immediately, and get my reactions down in the moment. Trying to put an article together after what amounts to about 14 straight hours of hydrating and screaming like a madman as I do my damndest to ensure that Patriots fans reclaim their rightful place as the most obnoxious fanbase in the entire NFL is a little more complicated than I'd like it to be.
Could I just postpone the Fan Notes for a few hours and go back to the DVR'd game so I could be a little more analytical in my breakdown? Could I allow myself the opportunity the be an actual sportswriter for a change, one who actually does a little research before just throwing something up online for the world to see? Of course I could. Am I going to do any of that? Hell no. That's not my style. I'm a live in the moment kind of guy. And if that means you all get to read the half mad ramblings of an overly hydrated nutjob desperately trying to hold it together as he figures out how in the hell he is going to get through this week based on the weekend he just had, so be it.
- Tommy B threw approximately 95 times in this game. The Patriots only dialed up five designed runs. FIVE. That's insanity. Even crazier is that this was Brady's 23rd career game with over 50 pass attempts. Please, experts, draftnicks, and analysts, let's hear a little more about the slow death of the pocket passer and how QBs in the mold of Colin Kaepernick are the wave of the future in the NFL. How is Kaep doing this season?
- After an early turnover to set the pace for the game, the Patriots struggled early. It's tough to tell whether we should be crediting the Jets defense or blaming the offense for some early jitters and inaccuracy. Probably a little bit of both.
- DROPS. Holy Drop did the drops drop in the droppiest fashion. Brandon LaFell, in his return to action, came up with six, and Julian Edelman had more than his share as well. A few drops came with a Jets defender right on the receiver, but other times it was simply inexcusable. New England left a lot of points on the board yesterday when touchdowns were reduced to field goals because of idle hands.
- I don't know whether the 3rd down defense - which allowed 8 of 14 to go for a 1st down - is a legitimate cause for concern or not. This is the second week in a row where the 3rd down D was about as reliable as my credit score, and so look for the coaches to harp on that incessantly in the 72 hours or so the Patriots have between this game and the next.
- Seriously - can anyone here think of a Thursday night game that wasn't a complete mess? Neither team has enough time to rest, recover, or prepare, and it's almost always a sloppy outing where the team that sucks the least ends up stealing a game. Integrity, quality, player safety, and awareness will never, at any point, take back seat to money.
- Most of us had the key to beating the Jets yesterday centering around stopping the running game and forcing the ball into Ryan Fitzpatrick's hands. The Jets only amassed 60 yards on 24 carries, less than three yards per run. Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower both had monster days, attacking the line of scrimmage like a Social Justice Warrior on a college campus eavesdropping on a conversation about whether or not we as a society should think of a different name for coffee plain without any milk or sugar because it could possibly offend somebody. When those two guys are in, it just adds an entirely new dynamic to the defense. Their health is paramount as we enter into the 2nd half of the season.
- For any other tight end in the league - literally any other tight end - a 5 catch, 60 yard, 1 TD game is a monster day that you are very happy with. But when it's Gronk, that basically means that the big man has disappeared. Well he's back now, for everyone who was shaking their heads in disgust at such a pedestrian performance. 11 for 108 and a score isn't too shabby.
- It happened again, too - once again, Gronk was wide open and completely uncovered when Tommy B hit him for the game-sealing TD. You can go ahead and talk about blown coverages and poor defenses all you want, but this happens at least once a game and so I'm going to give Brady the credit he deserves for successfully diagnosing the defense and ensuring that Gronk will be all alone over the middle.
- Such a sweet playcall, too - Y delay, wait until you establish the chip block and oversell the notion that you're staying home to defend the blitz. Then when the blitz comes, break off the line for an easy throw and catch.
- And while I'm on the subject of Tommy B - a subject I'd be happy to ramble about until the day I die - sweet Tebow is he playing like a man possessed. 34 of 54 (including those six drops) for 355 yards against the best defense in the NFL. 14 of is last 17 to seal the game.
- On the negative side, the Patriots have now only scored 213 points this year. To those keeping track, by this time in 2007 the Pats had scored 230. I expect the impending investigation to get to the bottom of this, and I hope the league spares no expense.
- Danny Amendola. I feel like that's all I really need to write. Once again Amendola came up huge when his number was called. He isn't going to light it up every week, he may disappear at times, and he might not be what we all initially thought he was going to be, but when the chips are down and something positive needs to happen, he's right there. He's pretty much the White Castle of the New England Patriots.
- Not the best day for Malcolm Butler. Now he's still quite comfortably inside the bubble of This Man Can Do No Wrong, but in terms of his worst game as a pro, this one might be it. Eric Decker ate his lunch all day long to the tune of almost 100 yards receiving. Butler had a blatant PI call as well. Not cool, man.
- You know what was, cool, though? This.
- This didn't really feel like a comeback win, but that's absolutely what it was. New England was good, but not great, for three quarters before turning it on in the fourth.
- I just wish that real life worked like that. How about I mail it in for the first three quarters of every work week and then make a strong push starting late Thursday?
- This also now marks three straight weeks - Cowboys, Colts, and Jets - where the Pats didn't play their best football. Injuries are a factor (but never an excuse), but I'd like to think that they are going to start rounding the corner as we get into November and the games become more meaningful.
- Julian Edelman is still Tommy B's go-to guy for sure. But if he keeps dropping the ball the way he has been...I don't know. Best not to think about it.
- Maybe Brady is just throwing it too hard. Everyone knows that 38 year old QBs have an absolute cannon for an arm.
- This now marks the 20th straight home game the Patriots have won in the month of October. They have a chance to make that 21 - and pretty much put a stranglehold on the division - this Thursday when the Fins come to town. The Jets are better than the Dolphins, but the Dolphins are playing with a newfound energy that they definitely didn't have at the beginning of the year. It's like Miami suddenly looked down and realized that their pants were on fire after wasting all of their previous energy trying to get some ski bunny's number. Should be a good game.
- Hopefully everyone can hurry up and get healthy. New England is missing a lot of key pieces all over the place and isn't even playing at full strength yet.
- 6-0 ain't too shabby. No time to enjoy it, though; another game right around the corner.