The New England Patriots allowed the Jaguars to score 17 points in Sunday's 51-17 victory, so here are 17 points of analysis that we learned from the game.
1. Tom Brady is still perfect
Tom Brady hasn't thrown an interception in 2015. He hasn't really been too close, either. He's continued to show full mastery of the offense and his presnap adjustments have been impossible for defenses to stop. Brady has nine touchdown passes this season and he could (should?) have three or four more if the coaching staff let him. He's not slowing down.
2. LeGarrette Blount is back and involved
After a week 1 suspension and a week 2 ease-in process, Blount was engaged in the New England offense, picking up 78 yards and 3 touchdowns on 18 carries, and an additional catch for 14 yards. He served as the closer, battering down the broken Jaguars defense, often rushing to the outside for big gains.
3. Dion Lewis rested in the second half
Blount was able to close because Lewis picked up 37 yards and a touchdown and 5 catches for 30 yards. Lewis was able to soften the Jaguars defense to open up passing plays up the field. Look for the Patriots to feature both Blount and Lewis moving forward in a Stevan Ridley/Shane Vereen-like tandem. While Lewis is no longer an every game bet, he's still a lock for some major opportunities.
4. Rob Gronkowski can't be stopped, although the Jaguars were good in the red zone
The Jaguars and Bills defense found a good stop to the Patriots multi-tight end spread offense on the goal line, although I think that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is sitting on a draw play for future use. When the Patriots flexed Rob Gronkowski outside on the goal line, the Jaguars covered him with a cornerback who was able to defend the ball. With the Patriots skill players spreading out the Jaguars defense, Brady could've decided to give the ball to the running back on a draw. I'm predicting that play after the bye week.
5. Julian Edelman didn't set the reception record
Edelman "only" picked up 8 receptions for 85 yards on the day. If he collected 10 receptions, he would've been the first in NFL history to start the season with 10+ receptions in each of the first three games. Bill Belichick opted to protect Edelman and didn't let him play for much of the fourth quarter.
6. The Patriots offensive line looked great, except for one member
The Patriots found a way to keep Tom Brady clean for most of the night and it was a quality performance by nearly everyone. The young interior line of Shaq Mason, Tre Jackson, Josh Kline, and David Andrews were great with their communication and they already look streets ahead of where they were in week 1. Tackle Marcus Cannon, however, continues to struggle when asked to play at tackle. He misses assignments and hurts drives on a consistent basis. He'll be a player to watch moving forward.
7. The entire offense was nearly unstoppable
Ten drives on the day. Nine scores. One kneel down. While there were three field goals, that's nearly a perfect day for the offense. There was even a drive that went 10 yard Patriots penalty, 52 yard Jaguars penalty, 24 yard Jaguars penalty, 1 yard Blount rush for a touchdown. In the stat sheet, the Patriots had one play for one yard and a touchdown, even though the drive spanned 67 yards.
8. The whole defensive line was stout against the run
The Jaguars used four running backs for 20 carries, picking up 57 yards. That's a 2.85 yards per carry rate. That's absolute dominance by the Patriots defensive line, who did a great job of forcing the Jaguars into 2nd- and 3rd-and-long situations.
9. Bill Belichick consideres Blake Bortles a mobile quarterback so he played contain
If you're worried about the Patriots pass rush, don't be. Belichick believes that Bortles' rushing ability is more similar to Tyrod Taylor than to Peyton Manning and opted to try and contain and squeeze the Jaguars quarterback in the pocket. Bortles was more willing than Taylor to throw the ball away and avoid the sack, but the result was similar: a harried quarterback making bad throws.
10. Rob Ninkovich looked like he was playing a little wider than usual
It's worth looking at further after a game review, but Ninkovich might have been playing a little bit wider than usual. Instead of aligning just outside of the right tackle, Ninkovich was playing a few snaps outside of where the tight end would usually align. This helped with the contain because Ninkovich has been struggling to set the edge over the past year; the veteran gets to start the snap with a better angle to help hold the pocket in place.
11. Dominique Easley returned and looked to play at a high level
While the defensive tackle wasn't blowing up the stat sheet, and he's definitely not at a Geno Atkins or Aaron Donald level at this point, he was still very disruptive in his time on the field. He picked up a big tackle for loss and he was using his burst to redirect rushing lanes and to funnel the running backs into the waiting arms of Jamie Collins. With another week of rest, maybe Easley can make the jump with a healthy remainder of the season.
12. Jordan Richards was playing safety and looked very good
After spending two weeks on special teams, the Patriots 2nd round safety looked very natural on defense. He was good in coverage- and maybe a little lucky, too, when he carried Allen Robinson out of bounds for an incomplete pass- and he was taking good angles against the run. He still has a long way to go, but he definitely flashed an ability on defense.
13. Ryan Allen is a waste of money...
New England goes and spends $6.69 million on their punter and he puts up a major goose egg of a performance. It's like he wasn't even there. His punts went for zero yards and...oh. I guess he held well for the field goals and extra points.
14. ...Stephen Gostkowski is not
It cannot be understated how valuable Gostkowski is for this franchise. He picked up six extra points and three field goals, which is absolutely astounding production when factoring in the extra distance on the extra points. He kicked off 10 times for 7 touchbacks and 1 squib kick before the half. That means just two of his kicks were returnable. He's so good.
15. The Patriots set a franchise record for first downs
The Patriots picked up 35 first downs (12 rushing, 19 passing, 4 via penalty). In comparison, the Jaguars collected just 15 first downs. New England was dominant on both sides of the ball.
16. There is room to improve on third down for the defense
The Jaguars converted 50% of their third down attempts, which is far too high. Here are the plays:
3rd and 10: Pass for 26 yards to TE Clay Harbor
3rd and 7: Patriots CB Logan Ryan called for illegal contact and an automatic first down
3rd and 1: Quarterback sneak from Blake Bortles for 3 yards
3rd and 10: Pass for 11 yards to WR Allen Hurns
3rd and 7: Patriots sack Blake Bortles and force a fumble, recovered by the Jaguars for a first down
3rd and 2: Pass for 9 yards to RB T.J. Yeldon
3rd and 6: Pass for 59 yards and a touchdown to WR Allen Hurns
Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia will have plenty to work with over the bye week.
17. The Patriots played a great 60 minutes of football
After letting the Bills back into the game in week 2, Belichick made sure that New England wouldn't falter in the second half. Mission successful.