The New England Patriots keep cruising through their early regular season schedule: on Sunday, the team improved to 3-0 thanks to a decisive 30-14 victory over the visiting New York Jets that saw all three phases of the game and almost every player on the 46-man roster contribute — for better or for worse. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, however, and instead take a look at some of the men that stood out during the contest.
Winner: The entire Patriots defense (again)
For the second week in a row, New England’s defense did not surrender even a single point (the 14 given up by the club were the result of mistakes on offense and special teams). It was a dominant performance from start to finish: the Jets gained just 105 yards of offense — the lowest ever under head coach Bill Belichick — and were a combined 0-for-13 on third and fourth downs; quarterback Luke Falk was sacked five times and the team gained only six first downs all day. It was a massacre.
With that out of the way, there are five defensive players that still deserve special mention:
DT Danny Shelton: Given that the Jets started a first-time starter at quarterback, trying to establish a presence on the ground was the natural thing for them to do. This plan never worked out, however, as New York gained only 36 yards on 20 carries — in large part because of Shelton clogging holes quickly in the middle of the field.
LB Jamie Collins Sr. : Collins continues to be the gift that keeps on giving for the Patriots defense. Against the Jets, he registered a pair of sacks and nearly had an interception while playing all over the field against the pass and the run. Bringing him back after he flamed out in Cleveland might have been New England’s best move of this year’s free agency period.
CB Stephon Gilmore: Let’s just have former NFL defensive back Ryan Clark break down the Patriots’ number one cornerback and his performance against the Jets (via Twitter): “Stephon Gilmore is breathing that Darrelle Revis 2009 air. He is unconsciously locking people down. He is in a zen state of clamponia & it’s fun to watch.”
LB Dont’a Hightower: Before leaving the game with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter, Hightower played a marvelous game. He was quick to fill holes in the running game, attacked downhill as a pass rusher, and also looked good in coverage — all while calling out the defensive signals. His injury will be one to monitor moving forward, but other than that the team captain looked very good.
FS Devin McCourty: Another week, another McCourty interception. At age 32, the veteran is delivering arguably the best season of his career and establishing himself as a major playmaker in the secondary — with his pick and the subsequent 24-yard return in the third quarter as the highlight of his game against New York.
Winner: QB Tom Brady
Despite the supporting cast around him changing on a weekly basis and the running game offering little support, Tom Brady continues to play some excellent football. On Sunday, the Jets found out first-hand: the 42-year-old completed 28 of his 42 pass attempts for 306 yards and two touchdowns, and made smart decisions and well-placed throws all day long. As a result of his performance, he also earned an early end to his day — before having to re-enter the game because of:
Loser: QB Jarrett Stidham
Midway through the fourth quarter and up 30-7, the Patriots pulled Brady from the contest in favor of Jarrett Stidham. The fourth-round rookie’s debut lasted only four plays, however: he completed two passes for 14 yards, was sacked for a 7-yard loss, and finally threw an interception on an overthrow that was returned 64 yards for a touchdown. Stidham did not get another chance, as the Patriots rolled with Brady for the rest of the game.
Winners: WR Josh Gordon & WR Phillip Dorsett II
Even with Antonio Brown no longer a part of the equation, the Patriots’ wide receiver group showed why it was one of the strongest units on the team. Two players stood out in particular: Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett. While Gordon caught six passes for a team-high 83 yards, Dorsett had 53 yards and a touchdown on his six receptions. With Julian Edelman leaving the contest late in the first half because of a chest injury, and with James White out to begin with, the two picked up the slack and provided Tom Brady with reliable options in the passing game.
Winner: ST Matthew Slater
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Matthew Slater for his leadership and his ability to make plays in the kicking game after the game against New York, calling him “probably the best in the game” at keeping punts out of the end zone — something he did marvelously in the fourth quarter. It was the most notable play of the day for the veteran, who did not show up on the stat sheet but whose impact on Sunday’s contest cannot be underestimated.
Loser: The run blocking
Sony Michel was handed the football nine times and he finished with only 11 yards plus one touchdown. The second-year man was not the main reason for New England’s output on the ground — 25 attempts for only 69 yards — but instead a player to fall victim to some bad run blocking. Whether it was new starting left tackle Marshall Newhouse, veterans Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason, or the skill position blockers, the Patriots’ run blocking so far this season has been wildly inconsistent and is an area that needs to be improved moving forward.
Winner: The pass blocking
As bad as New England’s run blocking looked like, the pass protection actually held up pretty well all day long. Tom Brady was not sacked once on his 42 dropbacks, while Jarrett Stidham’s 7-yard sack probably would not have happened to the starting quarterback (he would have gotten rid of the football quicker). Considering all the moving pieces up front, the performance certainly was an encouraging one.
Winner: RB Rex Burkhead
While Sony Michel struggled on the ground and with holes collapsing quickly in front of him, Rex Burkhead actually was serviceable as New England’s change-of-pace runner: he carried the football 11 times and gained 47 yards as well as a touchdown. Filling in for James White as the Patriots’ receiving back, he also added 22 more yards on six receptions. It was a solid outing for Burkhead, who showed that he can deliver when called upon.
Winner: P Jake Bailey
New England’s rookie punter was a lot of action despite the Patriots scoring 30 points on the day: Jake Bailey was brought on for seven kicks, and he looked good by averaging 44.3 yards per punt with a net of 41.4. Five of his punts landed inside the Jets’ 20-yard line, with another just falling into the end zone for a touchdown. Bailey, who also looked good as a holder on place kicks (the lone miss of the day did not appear to be his fault), continues to show why he won the punter competition over Ryan Allen this summer.
Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News: Pats Pulpit Live: Week 3 vs. the New York Jets
Welcome to another victory edition of Pats Pulpit Live!Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, September 22, 2019