It would appear that there is a direct correlation between the number of “Coping With Loss” articles I write and the number of Fan Notes from the Game I get to do.
For the very first time since I started writing for Pats Pulpit, my Fan Notes end alongside the regular season. Not sure what I’m going to do with myself over the coming weeks, so if anybody has any experience in doing things other than watching football in January, I’m all ears.
But as far as last games of the season go, yesterday’s between the Patriots and Jets was... fine. It was a nice way to end the season. Cam put up some good numbers and set a franchise record for longest run by a QB with 41. Sony Michel looked like the Georgia running back New England drafted. Jakobi Meyers kept on Jakobi Meyersing. But it was all against the Jets, so who the hell knows what to take away from the game overall. It ultimately doesn’t matter at all anyway, so it’s just good to end the season with a win.
- That the Patriots took the opening kickoff and drove right down the field and scored off a TD pass is absolutely hysterical. Hysterically mainly because I was convinced that New England used up their customary solitary good offensive drive per game on their very first possession, which would leave us spending the rest of the contest desperately watching the clock as we waited for the zeros that would signify the merciful end to this season.
- However, as far as offensive games go, this one was...one of the better ones of the year? Is it safe to say that given that it’s the Jets?
- The good news is that both teams seemed to understand the complete and utter futility that was yesterday’s game and did everything they could to speed things along. If there was a single snap that was taken with more than 10 seconds left on the playclock, I must have missed it. Extra credit to the Jets for waiting for the first quarter to end before punting.
- Virtually every single Patriots linebacker was out for this game, which presented the pretty interesting look of Myles Bryant and Kyle Dugger playing deep in a two-shell with Devin McCourty in the box. If Belichick was thinking to himself “one day, we’re going to be out of the playoffs and sitting all our linebackers during a meaningless Week 17 matchup against the Jets, at which point I’ll be glad I took all those DBs in the second round” during all of those drafts that left us scratching our heads, he’s even more of a genius than we thought.
- I didn’t know I needed Terry Bradshaw dancing in a pair of Tostitos chonies until until I saw that commercial yesterday.
- Tons of positives to take away from yesterday’s game, but none more positive than Devin Asiasi making a catch! Scratch that! A TOUCHDOWN CATCH!
- Actually — that’s pretty much it for actual positives to take away from this game. Never mind.
- It seems that there were two plays that worked most of the time for the Patriots offense, and two plays alone. One was a toss to Michel, which was usually good for four or five yards. And the other, amazingly, was a 15+ yard laser across the middle to Jakobi Meyers when the Patriots ran for no gain on first down and took a Cam Newton sack on 2nd. Go figure.
- The Patriots — more specifically, Cam Newton — never quite figured out how to successfully diagnose and pickup the blitz, did he. Too many times, either yesterday or in weeks prior, guys came in completely unblocked and sacked him. Or maybe we’re just so spoiled with Tommy B’s pre-snap reads that we just don’t know the reality of disguised coverage.
- I can’t help but notice that JC Jackson has really struggled in coverage on crosser routes over the past few weeks. Though that may be a personnel thing with no linebackers over the middle and safeties forced to play closer to the box to help out with the awful, awful run support and thus the middle of the field is always wide open. But it’s something to work on in the offseason. I’m not sure what’s going to become of Gilmore, who will likely need to sign an extension/restructure going into next year if he’s going to remain on the team, so Jackson may be drawing a lot more No. 1 receivers in 2021.
- Speaking of No. 1 receivers... N’Keal Harry has finished his first two seasons in the NFL with 43 catches for 397 yards and 4 TDs. He had less receiving yards on the season than Julian Edelman, who hasn’t seen the field since Week 7. So...yeah.
- I’ll be very curious to see what happens to Sony Michel and/or Damien Harris this offseason. I feel like both guys have done enough to be a starting RB, and so there may be some trade value in there somewhere. Or they could keep them both and be beyond dominant at the RB position next year.
- Every time I think Cam Newton will finally have a full hand’s worth of touchdown passes on Jakobi Meyers, Meyers goes and gets his second of the season. I guess if New England quarterbacks aren’t going to throw touchdowns to receivers, receivers may as well throw them to quarterbacks.
- I wonder if there has ever been a receiver in NFL history with more TD passes than TD catches. 2020 in a nutshell.
- What’s actually 2020 in a nutshell: I’ve never rooted so hard for the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles to with their Week 17 matchups so the Giants would win the NFC East and host a playoff game with a 6-10 record.
- There have been plenty of mixed opinions on Cam Newton this season, and understandably so...but I’ll just leave it with a thanks, Cam. You came in with no offseason, the worst receiving corps in the NFL, two rookie tight ends, on the heels of the departure of the greatest quarterback of all time, and then you got COVID and never really recovered. You also looked like you never quite picked up the offense, got a handle on the schemes, or got your throwing mechanics right. This was Alec Shane’s History and Algebra final in high school: a double fail, and that’s just the way it is.
- This is going to be an offseason absolutely lousy with question marks at almost every position, and even lousier with the Boston sports media vomiting up storylines about the QB situation and Bill Belichick now being on the hot seat or Julian Edelman or whatever else they can do to desperately cling to relevance. My advice to all of you is to unplug from that for a while — at least until the season is over.
As always, a million thank you to everyone who reads these Fan Notes every season, and thanks to everyone who reached out at some point to tell me they enjoy my writing. This season was basically screwed from the get-go, and it’s never fun limping to the finish line like this.
But we’ll be back. It might be a several-year rebuild, but there are some great young pieces to build around for 2021, and this is kind of what football is for most of the NFL. Fan Notes waits for nobody, and I’ll keep posting them, win or lose.
Thanks for hanging around till the end, everyone — real fans stick with their team no matter what. We’re on to the offseason.