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After Further Review: Patriots down Jets on Monday Night Football

20191022-AfterFurtherReview-PDC

First Quarter

-The Patriots first drive was surgical and their best one of the season, lasting 16 plays and featuring four third-down conversions. They employed five different personnel groupings after being limited to just one in the second half against the Giants last week. The majority of the snaps came from 12 and 10 personnel, while the tight ends were a significant part of the plan right out of the gate.

-It was an encouraging start for Ben Watson, after his first target hit him right off the facemask that is. He picked up a nice third-down conversion catch and had a key block on Michel's first touchdown. As Watson gets fully back into the swing of things expect his role to expand, but it was immediately clear that he's an upgrade from what they've had. They used him out of the backfield a bit too, showing how creative they're getting with no fullback.

-The defense sent seven rushers initially on Sam Darnold's first interception, with Duron Harmon dropping out late to take away the quick crosser. The Jets should've been prepared for these kind of blitzes but somehow managed to let both Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower with a free path to the quarterback which forced the bad throw.

-Might have to wait on the All-22 to know for sure but it looked like Sony Michel's dropped screen on third down after the first interception might've gone all the way to the house. Not a great possession off the quick change as the offense lost four yards, and had to settle for a field goal.

-Great back shoulder catch by Brandon Bolden along the sideline on the third offensive drive. Bolden's been such an underrated return this season, chipping in with numerous different plays on both offense and special teams. Fun to see him hitting a new level of production.

-The Pats went for it on fourth down from the 29, as Brady found Watson over the middle at the last moment. Edelman was double teamed on the play and this showed how valuable another middle field receiver is to this offense. Mohamed Sanu will be a nice addition in this regard.

-Just a perfect throw to Dorsett on the 26-yard touchdown, slightly reminiscent of Brady's throw to Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown in Super Bowl 49.

Second Quarter

-John Simon's forced fumble was another big play by the linebacker who is an underrated and versatile piece for this defense. Simon continues to make a splash even in limited duty and has developed similarly to Rob Ninkovich. He could be in line to become a bigger part of things next year as Collins and Van Noy face free agency.

-Once again short yardage had their struggles as it took three downs to get a yard and into the end zone. The offense has not been dominating in short yard situations and this time they featured a combination of Elandon Roberts and James Ferentz at fullback. At least they finally got in unlike last week against the Giants when they were stopped three-straight times only needing a yard.

-Darnold' second pick was a result of reacting to pressure that wasn't really there (seeing ghosts?). The Pats only sent five rushers and the pocket was there, but it was a bad throw to a spot where it was only Patriots' defenders. That's what happens when you spin the pass rush dial so much and get a quarterback's head spinning.

-It wasn't the best sequence when the Pats couldn't get a first down off their goal line and were forced to punt. Bailey only punted it 37 yards giving the Jets starting field position at the Patriots 46. Otherwise Bailey was once again outstanding, as were the special teams in general, including Matthew Slater's recovered fumble later in the game.

-But the Patriots defense got a fourth-down stop on the next possession despite giving up a couple first downs that allowed the Jets all the way to the 28-yard line. There haven't been many big moments this defense has had to face but they've passed everyone test they've taken.

Third Quarter

-The Patriots defense kept their torrid pace on the first drive of the second half, with Stephon Gilmore grabbing the third interception of the game. The defense sprinkled in Simon at defensive end in a 3-4 front. Simon and Shilique Calhoun showed good versatility for the front with the ability to play a more traditional defensive end role when called upon.

-Again it was a free rusher in the face of Darnold that forced the bad throw. Offenses need to figure out how to manage the Patriots complex blitzes to have any chance to move the ball on them.

-Sometimes when it rains it pours for the Jets against the Patriots and the third quarter safety off a bad snap was one of those moments. J.C. Jackson took off into the backfield when he saw the snap go over Darnold's head.

-Sony Michel's carry after the free kick was a good example of how he's picking the wrong holes sometimes. As always, the ground game is a group effort but Michel seems like he's overthinking things a bit as he could've had a significant gain if he cut it one way, instead he lost a yard when the blocks were all there.

-On Brady's interception the pocket broke down a bit and Brady seem uncharacteristically unable to get away from the pressure. Joe Thuney and Marshall Newhouse looked like the guilty parties, with Leonard Williams showing a strong and relentless pass rush.

-Darnold hesitated again on his fourth interception, this one to Terrence Brooks. Initially there wasn't great pressure but the pass rushers kept working and came free quickly enough to force a bad throw from Darnold.

-The Patriots ability to mix and match personnel on defense is such a big advantage. They haven't had many challenges late in games, but when they do they'll be ready to go with so many rotational pieces who will all be fresh.

Fourth Quarter

-The Patriots offense sputtered for much of the second and third quarter but got back on track with a nice touchdown drive that ended early in the fourth quarter. No surprise this drive was spurred by the two main playmakers - James White and Julian Edelman - who picked up 44 of the drive's 59 points.

-Overall, the offense really stagnated outside of that one drive mentioned above and had to return to their reliable players as their ability to scheme their way into success seemed to run out. Players like Watson, Meyers and Dorsett had diminishing returns and figuring out a way to keep them productive all game long is a big key moving forward.

-Damien Harris showed some good burst in limited reps at the end of the game. Nice to get the rookie's feet wet a bit but he's unlikely to see a significant role this year unless Michel gets hurt.

Personnel Packages

Offense

  • 11 - 29 snaps
  • 12 - 17 snaps
  • 21 - 14 snaps
  • 10 - 9 snaps
  • 20 - 3 snaps
  • 22 - 1 snap
  • Goal line - 4 snaps

Defense

  • 2-4-5 - 22 snaps (includes 5 snaps in lighter 3-4 front, Calhoun/Simon at DE)
  • 3-4 - 13 snaps
  • 1-4-6 - 12 snaps
  • 2-3-6 - 12 snaps

10 Takeaways

  1. Watson and Tomlinson should really help. They were just getting their feet wet but I wonder if we see anything from LaCosse or Izzo the rest of the season.
  2. Brady continues to find a way to make it work no matter who is around him. Yes, Edelman and White are his go-to's, but each week they buy a little more time for the rest of the offense to develop and it's working.
  3. The running game has to be better as I grow increasingly curious to see if Rex Burkhead is more productive than Michel because it looks like things are being blocked far better now than a few weeks ago.
  4. It's hard not to think about the potential of the offense with Sanu in the mix along with Isaiah Wynn. Those two pieces with a healthy LaCosse will give them a lot of options to play with.
  5. There's not much else you can say about this defense than they're on a historic tear and are showing no signs of letting up. Can't wait to see where they stack up in history after this season is over.
  6. It was nice to have an issue-less game from the kicker for once. Hopefully it continues.
  7. Jakobi Meyers might take more of a back seat with Sanu in the mix but it would disappointing if his role disappears completely. He's making progress every week and is catching every pass thrown his way.
  8. Similarly, Gunner Olszewski continues to develop, reeling off his best punt return of the season, a 22-yarder. He also looks quick off the line when gets some offensive snaps. Those snaps are likely over though with Sanu in the mix.
  9. Who knows what happens with N'Keal Harry now and how that affects Myers.
  10. It's hard to grasp just the third 7-0 start in team history. This game showed some real progress overall for the team, which is impressive considering it was coming off an 11-day break. There are still inconsistencies, but the trajectory of this team is certainly headed toward the Super Bowl right now and it might only be injuries that could derail them.

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