Tonight we are going to look back at the Thanksgiving matchup between the Jets and the Patriots. In the past two weeks the Patriots have not been playing down to the level of their competition. They destroyed both the Colts and the Jets. Although, the Jets offense can’t be used as a measuring stick for the passing defense of New England, if you compare the two prior meetings between the teams, the difference in the way the Patriots played defense is astronomical. In this article, listed below, I have pointed out both some good and bad things taken from the Thanksgiving game.
Talib Factor: I think he has added a swagger dimension to the secondary and they now play with confidence. They are not getting beat as badly as they were and they played shut down coverage against the Jets. Talib’s presence has really helped the rookie Dennard for New England as he has stepped up his play in a big way in the past two games. With Talib’s presence on defense it allows New England to offer safety help if need be to the rookie and also allows Arrington to be in on situational plays. Steven Gregory certainly had a game for the ages, as the Jets game was the best game of the season for safety Gregory and his involvement could be seen in every single play. The Patriots hope to continue to get that kind of play from the veteran safety. McCourty is a great safety in the NFL and gets to stay in this position as he belongs there. He is keeping teams from getting deep on New England and the difference is showing. The next true test for the corners and safety’s will come against the Houston Texans in two weeks. Andre Johnson is hitting his stride along with a good tight end in Owen Daniels. The Texans love to go deep a lot as they typically take a shot deep down the field at least once a quarter. This is exciting, as they will test the new looking Patriots pass defense.
Tom Brady: He is great no matter who is catching his passes. The Patriots go as Brady goes. He is running the first rank offensive team in the NFL and has the Patriots on a scoring record that could rewrite the records that he and his Patriots team wrote in 2007. What’s scary is that he is doing this without a Randy Moss type player on his team. He didn’t miss a beat without Gronkowski, however against better teams I think the Patriots will definitely miss his presence. The 6’7 tight end is not only the best weapon on the team but also the best red zone asset for the Patriots. The good news though is that Daniel Fells made a big catch against the Jets proving he can make some noise in the passing game even though he was mostly called on for his excellent blocking skills this game. This will be extremely beneficial until Gronkowski gets back. Tight End Hernandez is still the best passing threat with Gronkowski out. New England certainly benefits from the solid depth of Gronkowski and Hernandez. If both are in the game they prove to be a force to be reckoned with, however if one is out they are still strong at the Tight End position and will still get their catches and touchdowns. Hernandez being back certainly helps with Gronkowski being out. He wasn’t called on much in the game versus the Jets which in my opinion is a good thing because it means we have a ton of weapons and lots of team depth. Julian Edelman is turning into what New England has always said he could be. When he shows up and plays, he is something special and he offers an additional receiving threat for Tom Brady. Brady and Edelman are developing quiet the chemistry. Julian is fast with great hands and he is taking pressure off of Welker which heps him to continue to get his targets and catches and continue moving the chains. With others like Edelman stepping up it will certainly help to keep defenses from smothering Welker while Gronkowski is out. The less they smother Welker the better off New England is.
The running game: It is doing its job and it did it very well versus the Jets. The Patriots are loving the running game this year. It adds another dimension to an already great offense. If the defenses want to play deeper coverage, the Patriots will run it and if they stack the box the Patriots can throw it. It’s a double edge sword for defenses and what a great luxury to add for the Patriots.
The Patriots offensive line: They held up very well against the Jets. The Jets tried to blitz. They wanted to get pressure on Tom Brady. Most of the time they could not. Brady and the offensive line handle the pressure very well. The offensive line has been hit with the injury bug but it seems no matter who steps in they step up. They do great job blocking for the runs and the pass.
Linebackers: Let me start with the good. Hightower and Mayo can blitz and they can get pass rush on the QB. I wish they got the call to do this every single passing down. Spikes can stop the run and cause fumbles as much as any linebackers in the NFL. However, there are also some bad things here for the Patriots. The few times the Jets weren’t turning it over, they did complete some passes against all three of the linebackers: Spikes, Mayo, and Hightower. They also all gave up plays to the tight end or running back and struggled to cover them. It honestly looked like they were running in slow motion to cover. This is now the biggest weakness on the team, or it appears to me that way, and it has to be fixed. A great team will take advantage of it every time they go to pass. The Patriots never need to drop them in coverage. This is why I’m a fan of Spikes coming out of the game and Arrington coming in to cover the tight end or running back over the middle.
With all of this said however, after the Thanksgiving win, there isn’t many negative things to take away. Bottom line is that the Patriots showed up and showed out.