I wonder where the Monday after Thanksgiving break ranks on the Crappy Monday Scale.
It might legit be Number One. I’d say that the day after Labor Day and the first full workday in January are worse days, but the former is always a Tuesday and the latter only falls on a Monday once every seven years or so. But without fail, we all get a nice long weekend of feasting and football only to get slapped in the face with a long, grueling work week where everyone suddenly realizes that they have been mailing it in as of late and need to get everything done RIGHT NOW before things shut down for the year. No thanks.
Thank goodness this Monday was made a lot more bearable by a convincing road win over the New York Jets. Even though these teams haven’t really been rivals for some time, it never gets old when the Patriots head into New Jersey and take down a division foe.
- New England seems to be traveling extremely well this season; yet again, there were a large number of Pats fans at MetLife. Granted, it isn’t exactly a trek to East Rutherford, but I’m just amazed that anybody went anywhere other than their couch after this past weekend.
- As much as I love the day itself, Thanksgiving weekend is just the best. Tons of leftovers in the fridge, baked goods everywhere, and we all more or less say “screw it” to anything even remotely resembling a diet from last Wednesday until...who am I kidding, until at least January 1st. And while that translates very well into the tailgating scene, that just seems like a lot of unnecessary moving when there’s a perfectly good couch right in my living room. So that’s where I spent
allmost of my day on Sunday.
- Josh McCown had 135 pass yard and two picks against the Bills when they played. So of course he picked up almost half of that in one drive against the Patriots. The good news is that that one 80 yard touchdown drive was more or less the only good series the Jets put together all day.
- As teams have been doing all year against the Patriots, New York utilized a lot of passes to the running back out of the flat and shallow crosses across the middle. New England looked completely flummoxed at first, but adjusted by spreading Hightower out wider to spy the receiving back and utilizing Patrick Chung as a linebacker. New England started daring McCown to throw deep, which he simply can’t do, and once that adjustment was made, the Jets had no answer.
- But credit where credit is due: the past two times New England has played a Josh McCown-led offense, he has burned them multiple times with big scrambles on third down. McCown averaged a whopping 8.3 yards per rush and had only five yards less than the team’s leading runner Isaiah Crowell. It’s annoying that I had to type that, but what can you do.
- The NFL has tried to screw the Patriots in every way possible at this point. They have stripped them of draft picks, fined them millions, changed the rules to benefit other teams, and suspended their quarterback. None of it has worked. So I’m convinced that they have since switched gears and are punishing their fans by giving them the maximum alloted number of Dan Fouts-called games ever year. It has to be deliberate at this point.
- The adamant vigor with which Fouts talked about how hitting a QB low drawing a flag stemmed from Tom Brady, Kansas City, and Bernard Pollard almost had me second guessing the facts - almost. But, as we all know, that penalty came into being after a 2006 playoff game between the Cincinnatti Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, when Kimo von Oelhoffen dove into Carson Palmer’s knee and took him out. There was language added to the rule that states you can’t dive at the QB’s legs if you’re already on the ground following the Brady injury, but attributing that call to Tommy B is false. But don’t let facts get in the way of the narrative.
- I know I harp on Fouts all the time and it’s kind of low hanging fruit at this point, but when the most in-depth you get in your analysis is “The Jets are going to accept a 15 yard penalty here, because that will put the Patriots back five yards more that the 10 yard penalty will,” you deserve to be called out.
- Speaking of low hanging fruit...in every sense of the phrase... the internet is somewhat abuzz with Cordarrelle Patterson’s performance yesterday. No, not his first down conversions or his decision to try to leap into the end zone from a good four yards out. Rather, Patterson’s...um...hand placement...is getting the royal treatment this morning. And while I could never hope to put it as eloquently as Patterson did when offering an explanation, I do have to make a few very stupid jokes about it. Feel free to skip ahead, none of these are even remotely funny. But I’ll get all twitchy if I don’t get them out.
- Looks like Patterson doesn’t care about chest nuts roasting this season.
- It’s times like these when you really have to ball out.
- I wonder if Patterson was checking for PSI there. Nobody knows more about ball deflation than the Patriots.
- We all know how much Bill Belichick preaches about ball security.
- Looks like Patterson really wanted a game ball!
- OK, I feel better now. Back to it.
- New England’s opening offensive possession featured Gronk, Edelman, Gordon, Michel, and Hogan. And I’m happy to say that every single one of those players made positive contributions yesterday, which is exactly what you want to see from a Tom-Brady led offense.
- Tommy B’s day was fine - 283 yards and 2 TDs - but the real star of yesterday’s game was the rushing attack, led by Sony Michel with positive contributions from James White and Patterson.
- What I love about Michel is that he’s patient in addition to knowing how to follow blocks. He also knows how to fall forward, which sounds incredibly simple but is one of the more underrated skills a back can have. New England’s first third down conversion of the day was an off tackle run to Michel in which he was hit in the backfield, but was able to fall forward to pick up the first. That used to be the kind of play that LeGarrette Blount would lose 3 yards on.
- My two favorite Michel runs, though, came via the first play of the third quarter and then again early in the fourth - and both of them were all James Develin. On the first run, you can see both middle linebackers react to where Develin is going, which allowed Michel to make the cut out to the left for a huge gain of 31. They ran almost the exact same play in the 4th, except Develin ran a counter after drawing the ‘backers up before sprinting out in front of Michel to open up a huge hole. Michel just waited for his fullback, planted his foot, and went for 33. It never shows up on the stat sheets...but there will have to be some very interesting talks about Develin when he’s finally eligible for a red jacket at Patriot Place.
- As I mentioned, I thought that Tommy B looked good. There were still some issues I’d like to see fixed - there was a late throw to Gronk that caused New England’s first drive to stall, representing some lateness in decision making still - but he was able to move the ball down the field at will, and his favorite receiver was once again the open one.
- Jermaine Kearse had what may have been his Jermaine Kearsiest day as a receiver. Six catches, 66 yards, all of which seemed to be important grabs, but drops when he really needed to make a play.
- This Patriots team has to lead the NFL in getting into the red zone...and settling for field goals. They’re getting better though.
- Some very curious decisions from the Jets yesterday. Declining an OPI penalty that would have given the Patriots 4th and 2, but instead gave them an extra drive that led to a Gronk score. Punting on 4th and 3 at the New England 40 instead of going for it. Not blocking Trey Flowers. Failing to use their timeouts down two scores late. Showing up at all. But on the plus side, it allowed us to FINALLY get a Gronk seam route for a score, which we haven’t seen all season.
- Since absolutely nobody is mentioning it outside of the pats beat writers...congrats to Tom Brady, who passed Peyton Manning yesterday for the most combined passing yards of all time with a short out route to Sony Michel in the 2nd quarter.
- I don’t know how this guy did it...but he has carved out a nice little career for himself as the funny guy in pretty much every commercial ever made.
- Speaking of commercials - if you’re a fan of the holidays, this has to be a good time for you. The old standbys are officially back in rotation: The Hess Truck, The Corona Palm Tree Christmas Whistler...you name it. Everyone has their favorite holiday commercial - and for some reason, the one that has stuck with me the longest is the old Fruity Pebbles commercial from 1992. I was 11 years old in ‘92, and I had been spending almost every Saturday morning watching Barney try to get his hands on Fred’s Fruity Pebbles to no avail. But at Santa’s behest, the were finally shared, and Fred and Barney share a nice holiday moment. That one always stuck with me for some reason - probably in no small part because both Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles are delicious.
- I counted one solitary stretch run to the outside that wasn’t flagged. Did I miss any? Michel could have had a 200 yard day. To all the “the refs let too many holding calls slide!” whiners, you got your wish yesterday. The result was a slow, choppy, erratic game.
- You know what a great stat line? James White’s day as a receiver: one catch, five yards. One of eight different players who caught a pass.
- That quick slant to Gordon is more or less undefendable. And we should know; the Patriots have been getting smoked by that pass for 10+ years now.
- But my favorite Gordon play of the day was a 17 yard catch by Josh Gordon on 3rd down and 10 in the 4th quarter. Yes, it was a great scoop up off the turf to keep the chains moving, but more importantly, it was a comeback route when the initial play didn’t work. That was missing with Gordon up until this week and shows much better understanding and chemistry.
- As for the defense...still kind of a mixed bag. The Jets are terrible, sure, but there was good pressure and tight coverage. Still - when New England scored with time left before the half, who was even remotely confident that the defense was going to get a stop and give the Patriots the chance to double dip on points? Against the Jets, no less. Even after the Gilmore pick, the Jets got the ball back at the 43 and worked their way into FG range to tie it.
- I don’t think all of the penalties were necessarily good calls...but still. Can’t have that kind of lack of discipline. However, what a wild lack of consistency from the officials yesterday. Calling every possible holding penalty, but let both sides maul each other in the secondary.
- If I’m a Jets fan, I’m very excited about building a secondary around Jamal Adams. I’d say he got the better of Gronk yesterday.
- It would appear that Tommy B is hell bent on not rushing for 1,000 career yards. I don’t think he has run a single QB sneak since he had less than five yards to go.
- Tommy B is now 79-19 lifetime against the AFC East. Wow. That record looks a lot like the final score of the Pats/Jets Buttfumble game.
- Welcome back, Shaq Mason. Can’t understate how important he is to this team.
- Ask most Patriots fans, and they’ll say that the team is having a bit of a down year. They still aren’t quite gelling the way they’re supposed to, there are some technical issues that need to be worked out, the defense isn’t where it needs to be, and there are a lot of points being left on the board. The team is 8-3, in complete control of the AFC East, and well in line for a first round playoff bye. We really are the worst.
Everything really shook out well for the Pats across the league yesterday. They still can’t afford to slip up and play any more sloppy games, but if they can take care of business over the next few weeks, they’re in fantastic shape. They definitely have the easiest road to homefield advantage of any of the top AFC teams, so here’s hoping this final push will be reminiscent of years past.