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Patriots vs. Jets: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots’ 25-6 victory over the New York Jets.

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Nothing like a New York Jets game to cure what ails you.

New England traveled to East Rutherford and, for the 11th straight time, took it to the Jets to the tune of 25-6 in a game that could have very well been 45-6 had it happened later in the season. It wasn’t perfect, but the Jets are just a terrible football team that made too many mistakes, and so the Patriots were able to walk out of there with their first win of the season and share of first place atop an AFC East that might be one of the most interesting divisions in the league. Not too shabby.

Let’s get to it.

  • Living in the NYC area, I got a lot of Jets-centric pregame prior to kickoff...which in this case focused a lot on new Jets head coach Robert Saleh. And the first thing I thought after seeing him was how he looked a lot like someone famous, but I couldn’t quite figure out who. At first I thought Pitbull. Then Live lead singer Ed Kowalczyk. Then Chris Daughtry. Then I realized that pretty much all bald white men look more or less the same and got on with my day.
  • Jets DC Jeff Ulbich, on the other hand, is the guy I’m 100% following into the wilderness when society inevitably collapses.
  • Good for the Jets fans being loud and fired up yesterday, at least to start the game. This was likely the first Pats/Jets game since 2008 where the Jets fans didn’t walk into the stadium. expecting to get their doors blown off, so it makes sense.
  • However, doors were indeed blown off. Perhaps not in the “a whole buttload of points to very few points” sense, but at no point were the Jets a threat to take it over and in what may very well become the first of many battles between Mac and Zach, Mac was leaps and bounds better.
  • And not just the picks, either. Yes, throwing four is simply inexcusable, especially the one to McCourty where there wasn’t a Jet within eight yards of the throw. But if you were looking at which quarterback was more poised, which one had a better command of the offense, more understanding of down and distance, and grasp of the importance of ball security, it was the guy selected thirteen spots later than the other guy.
  • That said, I do like Zach Wilson. He has a good arm and some of the throws he made yesterday were absolute dimes. He just might be one of the many, many QBs in the NFL that would likely benefit from a year as a backup learning from a veteran. We’ll see.
  • You also have to place some of the blame for Wilson’s performance squarely at the feet of his parents, because everyone with a brain knows that all the cool Zacharys spell it with a CK and not a CH. Case in point. Zach Wilson throws four picks. Zack Wilson doesn’t.
  • But enough about their guy. Let’s talk about our guy.
  • The Jets are terrible. It’s important to keep that in mind, But I feel like the gameplan we saw yesterday is more or less in line with what we’re going to see all season. The Patriots like to keep it big, sending Jones to the line with a few option in terms of playcall, giving him the opportunity to make the read and put his offense in the spot that will give them the biggest chance for success.
  • But since we’re Patriots fans and nothing is ever good enough, I imagine that there are some people out there who think maybe we should pump the brakes on crowning Mac Jones our new savior. He only threw for 186 yards and the bulk of his attempts were screens, checkdowns, dumpoffs, and shallow ins. Sure, he’s fine, but they’re managing expectations for him right now since he’s still a rookie through simple, smart playcalling. So it’s good coaching and acceptable play, not exceptional quarterbacking. And to those folks, I say you do you. If football is made more enjoyable to you by being constantly unsatisfied with everything, rock the hell on. And nobody is really crowning anyone anything outside of the Twitter eggs and hot takers whose job is to make ridiculous statements. But count me among those who see an insane amount of potential in this kid and think he’s light years ahead of where I thought he’d be in his second ever NFL start.
  • One of the most absurd criticisms you can make of a QB, in my opinion, is dinging them for going to their checkdown receiver or being unimpressed when they hit a wide open man, like hitting the open man is some sign of poor play or unimpressive. I swear that there are folks out there who would rather a quarterback throw an incomplete dart 40 yards downfield into double coverage than make the smart throw that gains positive yards.
  • And speaking of smart throws, Mc Jones is lousy with them. He’s incredibly comfortable in the pocket and you can see him making his reads, going through his progressions. Seven different players made a reception yesterday, there were no super risky throws, and Jones protected the ball well.
  • That said...when it’s second and long, I see no reason to go for the quick slant or WR screen. The point that Jones is being presented with and making smart, easy throws is a valid one, and I imagine the leash will be getting longer each and every week. But
  • I’d also like to see a little less playaction. Out of sheer laziness and a lack of motivation, I’m not going to look this up, but I feel like at least 75% of the passing plays where Jones lined up under center as opposed to shotgun was a playaction. He sells it beautifully, but if you keep doing the same thing over and over, they’re going to stop believing you.
  • When it’s all said and done and we’re looking back on the 2021 season, the best signing this team made may very well end up being bringing James White back. White is arguably the best receiving back in the league, and his versatility in blitz pickup and his ability to spread wide is going to make Mac Jones’s life very easy in the coming months.
  • Mac Jones’s best throw of the day came with abou five minutes left in the half following JC Jackson’s second pick of the day, a beautiful rainbow to Jakobi Meyers right along the sideline for 24. As sweet as the throw was, it was teh pre-snap read that impressed me most. Jones recognized the coverage, saw Meyers in single, audibled at the line, and made a perfect throw.
  • My second favorite Jones throw of the day was actually an incompletion in the third quarter where the pocket collapsed, so he rolled to his left, looked down the field, motioned for Hunter Henry to come back to the ball, and threw it low so as to make sure Henry was the only one who could catch it. Henry stopped his comeback route short and the ball fell in the dirt to stall the drive, which was Henry’s fault - and he admitted as much with the ol’ chest tap and hand up gesture.
  • Of course, there were a few rookie mistakes that are to be expected. Jones held the ball out in front of him while taking a sack, which led to a fumble that New England thankfully recovered. And on his intentional grounding call, he had James White running open into the flat with a lot of green in front of him, but he couldn’t make the (admittedly a bit awkward and across the body) throw. He also could have just dropped down to take the hit there as well. But if I can trade one bad read per game with the kind of play I’m seeing the rest of the time, I’m a happy man.
  • I’d like to think that Damien Harris has a large piece of corkboard in his basement at home on which he has printed out and thumbtacked every single comment along the lines of “Sony Michel wouldn’t have fumbled at the goal line, Harris cost us the game.” He then picked out the usernames he found most ridiculous, perhaps PatsBewbz6969 or d00kiego, and yelled them all out with each tackle he broke yesterday on his way to the end zone on what might have been my all-time favorite Patriots running touchdown. 62 yards, a TD, and a four yards per carry average don’t even paint the full picture, either; even when New York was keyed into stopping the run, he still penetrated the gap (heh) and fell forward after contact.
  • Plus, this was all with a line that only had four linemen and a cardboard cutout out there. I sure am glad the Patriots traded for Yasir Durant. Of the three sacks Mac Jones took yesterday, Durant was directly responsible for two of them and he got yanked. If my calves didn’t so strongly resemble two bags of three day old oatmeal, I’d donate one to Trent Brown in a heartbeat.
  • I don’t want to get too excited about the defense considering how poorly the Jets offense played, but I’d also be (even more of a) fool to not acknowledge that maybe the Jets played so poorly because New England kept showing multiple fronts and brought different rushers at different times.
  • I’d make the point about how it’s more probable than not that JC Jackson is at least generally aware of where the opposing quarterback will be throwing the ball at any given time...but I don’t want the Patriots to lose any more draft picks. So I better move on before I’m accused of violating the integrity of the league.
  • It wasn’t all roses defensively. 152 yards on the ground is no good, particularly given how well the stretch runs were working for New York. And this team continues, for the 75th consecutive season, to struggle with wheel routes. New York’s first points of the day came off of a completely busted coverage and there are still more drive extending penalties than any of us would like to see. But keeping a team out of the end zone completely and generating four turnovers is a net win no matter who you’re playing.
  • I’m also going to go ahead and put this out there, not as a statement, but more as an observation that I’m going to be keeping an eye on going forward: Don’ta Hightower looks a little slow at the moment. He’s coming off his opt out season and I’m not in panic mode at all - but he’s 31 and has had multiple major injuries over the course of his career.
  • I’ve heard of some incredibly unconventional offensive strategies paying off in my day, and Tebow knows I’m no expert....but I can’t help but feel like New York’s “run it on first down, throw a pick on second down” approach to the beginning of this game isn’t viable.
  • There’s an absolutely horrible commercial featuring Kevin Hart for Sirius XM, I believe, although I’ve seen it 20 times now and don’t know for sure. And all Kevin Hart says, for the entire ad, is “What?” How much do you think he got paid for that commercial, which likely took one day to film? Seven figures? More than I’ll make in my lifetime?
  • Speaking of commercials...does it matter if the new Crispy Chicken Sandwich from Taco Bell is a taco or a sandwich? It’s not like classifying it one way or another is going to mitigate the inevitable violence on the other end of that particular transaction.
  • In case you were wondering... no, there’s no relation between Matt Ammendola and Danny Amendola. There’s an ocean between them in the form of an extra M.
  • I never thought I’d be saying this, but the networks seem to have finally gotten their act together in terms of not sandwiching 16 second of game play between twelve minutes of commercial breaks. The Jets punted the ball back to the Patriots with 2:09 left in the first half, and CBS didn’t break for commercial. In years past, that would have been punt/commercial/one play, two minute warning/commercial stinkery and it was great to see.
  • Matthew Judon might not show up much on the stat sheet today - just two tackles and a garbage time sack - but he gets my defensive game ball. Every time New England disrupted, it was on his side of the field. He’s a presence everywhere he lines up and I can see them starting to zero their packages and schemes around the mismatches he creates. And it’s super easy to see since he wears those rockin’ red sleeves so we always know where he is.
  • When the Jets went down 19-3 halfway through the third quarter and had to more or less abandon the running game...they kept running the ball. Might have had something to do with the attempt to interception ratio from their quarterback.
  • New York basically had two drives of note all day. One came from a blown coverage in the first half, the other came on a questionable DPI call in the second which ended in a missed FG. That’s just fine with me.
  • That defensive holding is an automatic first down is absolutely absurd. Just make it a 10 yard penalty and replay the down the way they do with offensive holding.
  • Up 22-3 with less than 10 minutes left in the game seems like prime Rhamondre Stevens time, for what it’s worth. Maybe when he isn’t inactive he’ll get those touches.
  • You know you’re a football nerd with no hope of redemption when you get all tingly over a punt. Or maybe you’re still thinking about last season where New England’s best player running away was Jake Bailey. Either way, I love that guy.
  • Congratulations to Nick Folk for setting a new Patriots record with 32 straight field goals made for this team. It’s about time this franchise got themselves a kicker. it’s been 30 years of total futility at the kicker position and we’re due. Ask any Patriots fan to name a single decent kicker we’ve had since 1995 and everyone will undoubtedly come up snake eyes.
  • And congratulations to Mac Jones for getting his first win as a Patriot. I’ll always remember Week 2, 2021 for two main reasons. One, it was Jones’s first win, hopefully the first of many. And two, it was the week I personally fell head over heels in love with him, for one main reason:
  • With exactly three minutes and two second left in the third quarter of this game, the Patriots called a shotgun sweep to James White that was actually a reverse to Kendrick Bourne. The lead blocker on this play was none other than one Michael McCorkle Jones. And Mr. Jones’s strategy for the block was to just sort of drop to the ground and hope the defender tripped over him, which he did. I related very, very hard to that kind of move - just sort of lie there, play dead, exert minimal effort, and hope for the best. I’m all in on this kid.
  • And speaking of Mr. Jones, this past week marked the 28th anniversary of the release of one of my favorite albums of all time, August and Everything After by the Counting Crows. “August” was one of the very last cassette tapes I ever purchased before making the jump to CDs (yes, I’m old. I know. Leave me alone), and in the words of Biggie Smalls, I let my tape rock ‘till my tape pop. So get ready for a lot of Counting Crows references from here on out every time our Mr. Jones strikes up a conversation with a black haired Patriots receiver.
  • This week’s beer on tap: Hoboken 902 Brewing PATH Pale Ale. Phenomenal Fall beer for when you just want to have a few while watching the game or sitting in your yard without getting too full. Tough to find, but recommend.

I said it last week in my Coping With Loss article that the AFC East is wide open this year. The Jets are 0-2 and everyone else in the division is 1-1. Hell, almost the entire AFC is 1-1 right now, so anything goes. Two big weeks coming up, and we’ll know a lot more about this team come October.