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Patriots vs. Jets: Fan Notes from the Game

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Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots’ 33-0 victory over the New York Jets.

NFL: New England Patriots at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Victory Tuesday, everyone!

Usually, the Tuesday morning after a Monday Night Patriots game has me all kinds of exhausted. The game never ends before 11:30, and then I’m either up all night watching highlights and trying to come down off the adrenaline rush or lying awake staring at the ceiling all night trying to figure out how the Patriots could possibly have dropped that game (mostly the former). But it seems that when the Patriots play the Jets in primetime, it’s more or less over in the first quarter and the real struggle becomes staying awake long enough to watch the whole thing. Last night was an absolute beatdown in which the game was well in hand right from the get-go and the Jets did themselves absolutely no favors on the way to yet another embarrassing performance that the whole country got to watch.

Not a bad way to start the week.

  • This was the first Monday Night Football game I actually sat down and watched as opposed to just having it on in the background as I did stuff around the apartment. This also means that last night was the first time I actually listened to Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland call a game. About that...
  • I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, as this was a real snoozer. And I actually like Tessitore; he’s pretty smart and calls a decent game. And I’ll also say that Booger has made significant strides from last season, where he was mainly on the sidelines running around and clapping at shiny objects. But holy jeez is there some awkward chemistry in that booth.
  • Booger is also like the bizarro Dan Fouts. Where Fouts seems to spend every Patriots game wondering why there aren’t more holding and intentional grounding calls, Booger is channeling his inner Jon Gruden and gushing all over Bill Belichick and hoping that one day his soundbites can even hold a candle to the real Booger.
  • I’ve always thought that if football doesn’t work out - and it very, very well might not - Sam Darnold would have a promising career as a bully in every 90s movie ever made. The only problem is, last night’s game was the NFL equivalent of starting the movie 20 minutes from the end where the bully just gets worked around and ends up in a pile of garbage or used diapers as the hero runs off into the sunset with his girlfriend.
  • Speaking of the 90s, when I was in high school...Sam Darnold’s passer rating last night was exactly double my GPA. Not a great look for either of us.
  • This game ended with exactly 6:13 left on the game clock in the first quarter, when Sony Michel capped off a 16 play, 78 yard drive that took almost nine minutes off the clock. That was hands down New England’s best drive of the season, and when your defense simply doesn’t give up points, that touchdown was all they needed.
  • But if you want to make the case that this game actually ended with 5:24 left in the first quarter, when Darnold threw his first pick of the day, I won’t begrudge you.
  • What’s especially great about that first drive is that there was no play longer than 14 yards and it was classic Tommy B: pre-snap motions, knowing where the holes in the zone are, receivers on the same page, and other than that play where a pass bounced off Ben Watson’s face, mostly positive yards all around. What’s funny to me is that people will likely point to that drive as some kind of evidence that Brady is a dink and dunk quarterback, as if engineering a nine minute TD drive in which five different players touch the ball is some kind of bad thing.
  • And what’s especially bad about that first Darnold pick is that it was a simple Cover 0 blitz where he just didn’t call the correct protection. That, or someone on the offensive line had a Rob Parker-level whiff on the read. That’s where you have to diagnose the blitz and audible to the hot receiver, the way that overrated system QB Tom Brady does on a regular basis.
  • In fact, that Cover 0 blitz worked all day. The Pats either brought it or faked it and dropped into coverage, allowing a linebacker to either crash the A gap or come in virtually untouched off the edge. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I was back in middle school playing NFL Sports Talk Football ‘93 and stupid Brian Bauer just kept calling Strong Dog Bliz over and over every play and I couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
  • In a weird way, this game was similar to the last Super Bowl, where the Patriots were well prepared to give Jared Goff a multitude of pre-snap looks, but ultimately didn’t need to switch up the scheme all that much because he couldn’t figure it out. The real difference is that in the Super Bowl the Patriots only ran the 0 Blitz once, and against the Jets they ran it just for fun, whenever they wanted.
  • And yes. I know that every team the Patriots have played stinks. But when you play bad teams, you make them look like bad teams, and that’s exactly what the Patriots have done. Not sure what more you can ask.
  • There’s a Buffalo Wild Wings commercial making the rounds this season that shows how a crowded bar surrounded by a bunch of screaming fans is supposed to represent a huge step up for the guy who is sitting at home, on a comfy couch, in his PJs, cold beer in hand, with the game on at a reasonable volume so he can hear everything perfectly. Anybody else think this guy is way better off where he already is? Besides, it isn’t that hard to high five yourself.
  • If you’re insane like me and follow my writing during the offseason and preseason as well, you know that one of my favorite things to do in August is play the “Who the Hell is that Guy?” game when the backups take the field to try and earn a roster spot. I think that Week 7 of the regular season is the latest I have ever played that game, courtesy of Patriots tight end Eric Tomlinson.
  • I’m starting to see why they don’t get Sony Michel involved in the passing game now. A gimme drop, and then the one he should have just batted to the ground was a catch for an eight yard loss.
  • I’m also starting to see that Michel has more success with stretch and B gap runs than up the middle. I don’t think that Karras’s strength is shifting defenders to one side or the other, which requires a back with crazy good reaction time to make a definitive cut to the other side. Bit sure Michel is that kind of runner.
  • I went back and watched the John Simon strip sack several times and I can’t figure out for the life of me how Darnold didn’t just go down and hold onto the ball. Then again, maybe he was following in his mentor’s footsteps.
  • Here’s that gif again. That will never not be funny.
  • And while I’m all gif happy...here’s a live look at Braxton Berrios looking across the field at the team he used to play for.
  • There was a point, towards the middle of the 2nd quarter, where the Patriots had more points than the Jets had yards of offense.
  • If I had to retroactively pick a favorite sequence from last night’s game, it was the drive about midway through the 2nd quarter and the refs decided to gift the Jets a pity drive by calling three different penalties to keep the drive alive. The NFL, coincidentally, also used this drive to show more commercials, as the minutes had been flying off the clock and I’m sure there was some concern about getting all the ads in. It was a 57 yard drive in which 39 of those yards came on penalties, and it ended with a Duron Harmon pick in the end zone, which the refs then decided to place at the one.
  • To that end, I fully expect a multi-million dollar investigation into how Duron Harmon has been illegally manipulating the end zone somehow in order to generate interceptions.
  • I’m convinced that Belichick didn’t challenge that spot, as it looked like Harmon’s hand came down on the goal line before his second foot did, because he saw a great opportunity for some situational football.
  • It also would have been a great chance for Julian Edelman to finally and fully absorb all of Wes Welker by catching a 99 yard TD reception against a division rival on MNF.
  • I’m further amazed that the refs didn’t call a phantom hold or intentional grounding penalty there, just to get the Jets on the board.
  • One of these days, it’s going to be third and short and the Patriots are going to run it to Damien Harris and Harris is going to get three yards and it’s going to be a good day.
  • “I’m seeing ghosts.” Way to get into the spirit, Sam!
  • With three catches on five targets for 18 yards, including a 4th down conversion, and the pull block that sprung Michel for a touchdown, I’d say it’s a pretty good homecoming for Ben Watson. And not a moment too soon, either; we still have a few weeks before Gronk comes out of retirement and we need those tight ends.
  • Le’Veon Bell is an absolute joy to watch. Patient but eager, hard to tackle, decisive, and goes for it even when things are really getting out of hand. Kind of like me at all you can eat wing night at Hooters.
  • I know that I should also say something funny about the Jets safety, maybe a line about batting balls or how that swat out of the end zone was the most accurate pass Sam Darnold made all night, but by the time that Jets safety happened, I was out of steam.
  • I was going to write “Good for Gunner not calling a fair catch on that safety punt”, but then I realized it was Edelman, who has never called a fair catch in his life.
  • Edelman might be at his most complete as a receiver over the last 18 months or so of his career. Incredibly crisp routes, great blocker, and a full understanding of all facets of the game. But he’s always going to drop passes, which sucks.
  • The Patriots already have as many picks this year as they did all of last year. It’s Week 7.
  • I’m looking forward to the analysis today about what a huge liability this offense remains. The offense that is soon to have Josh Gordon and N’Keal Harry and Isaiah Wynn and Red Burkhead back.
  • Oh - and Mohamed Sanu too. Can’t forget about him.
  • By the end of this game Sam Darnold was just throwing the ball to nowhere. Or maybe he wasn’t being facetious and he really was seeing ghosts out there.
  • Can’t wait for Thursday Night Football this week, guys! Redskins vs. Vikings! Here we go!
  • Even better, Dolphins vs. Steelers Monday Night!
  • Speaking of Dolphins...The Jets still have to play Miami twice. That’s going to be must-watch TV.

Welcome to the meaty part of New England’s schedule. Cleveland was supposed to be good this year (whoops), but Baltimore is legit. There’s a solid chance the Patriots can go into their bye week undefeated with a stranglehold on the AFC and key players returning from injury. I know it’s not even Halloween yet, but it would appear that the holiday season has already begun in the Northeast.