Following a dissapointing Week 1 loss to the Dolphins at home, the Patriots were looking to bounce back in a big way against the Jets in Week 2. They did just that, dominating the Jets in a 25-6 route of their AFC East rivals from Jersey. This marks the 11th consecutive victory for the Patriots over the Jets. Not since the Mark Sanchez/Rex Ryan days has this been much of a rivalry between the two teams. Even then it was only exciting for a couple seasons. The Patriots have made it a hobby of beating up on the Jets since 2000.
Death, Taxes, and the Patriots beating the New York Jets. That is how the saying goes right? Anyways, here are my quick-snap reactions to the Patriots Week 2 victory over the Jets:
Defense Continues to Look Rock Solid
If New England is going to make any noise this season, it will be because of this defense. I think most people thought that going into the season anyways (myself included). I’ve been saying it a lot over the past few months, but this defense is special. It gives me 2019 Patriots vibes. That defense was pretty darn good, and this one could be even better.
The pass rush, which at times was nonexistent last season, continues to apply pressure to opposing QBs. Jets’ rookie Zach Wilson was sacked 4 times on Sunday. 2nd year LB Josh Uche continues to impress, who after adding 2 more sacks to his ledger now has 3 sacks through 2 games. It’s worth noting he had all of 1 sack last season. Uche is the guy I said to look out for this year, and he is proving me absolutely right. The defense also did all this without starting LB Kyle Van Noy, who was inactive.
The key contribution from the defense however was the 4 interceptions they grabbed off the rookie QB.
JC Jackson had a pretty big day to say the least. There is no doubt about it, these turnovers are what made the game for New England. There were a few instances that the Jets were starting get a rhythm on offense, when they began to create some tension in the game. Pretty much immediately after this Zach Wilson would throw another pick, killing all momentum.
Some of it was great coverage, other times it was just flat out bad balls by Wilson. Either way, the Patriots capitalized on the opportunities, and it ultimately won them the game. The defense never allowed the Jets to get into it. To say Wilson did not have a good day was an understatement. If Sam Darnold was seeing ghosts, Zach Wilson saw an entire legion of ghosts and ghouls.
Ghosts again ?!?— Kyle Van Noy (@KVN_03) September 19, 2021
Mac Jones Looked Okay
I didn’t get a chance to write about it last week, but I was wildly impressed with Mac Jones’ debut against Miami. The rookie signal caller was so efficient, he looked as if he had been in the league for a few years already. To throw 39 times against that defense in your first start and not commit a single turnover or major mistake is unbelievable. It made me really excited to see what he would do against New York in Week 2.
Personally I thought he looked better in Week 1. That’s not to say he looked bad necessarily against the Jets. He finished the day 22 of 30 passing for 186 yards. No touchdowns, no turnovers. It was the definition of a “game manager” kind of game. He didn’t do anything spectacular to put the team on his back, but also didn’t make any mistakes that could have cost the team. He played just okay, which I guess is a good thing for a rookie QB in his 2nd career start. Maybe I’m nitpicking a little bit here, but I just expected to see a little more from the kid against this not so good Jets team.
To be fair here, OT Trent Brown was out with an injury on Sunday. This alone gives a lot of explanation as to why the offensive line struggled versus New York. Brown is a key component of this line, but you would think that even without him this unit could hold their own.
Spoiler alert: they didn’t.
Yasir Durant, who started in place of Brown, was horrendous. He was a revolving door the entire first half. He wasn’t the only poor performance today, but he was by far the worst. The entire O-Line let Jones down, allowing him to be sacked 3 times and pressured on countless other occasions. This unit was supposed to be one of the best in the league. I’m hoping this is an anomaly caused by the absence of Brown, and not an ongoing trend throughout the season. Will have to keep an eye out on this.
Wide Receiver Position Still A Big Issue
Now that I think about it, I may have been too harsh on Mac. Between poor offensive line play and receivers who can’t get open, it’s a tough ask for any QB to deliver a big game. Even against the Jets. Look, I think most people, fans and not, knew this receiver corps was still nothing special. Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne were nice small upgrades, but neither are big time dynamic game changers.
The receivers just cannot get separation. It’s a trend that’s been occurring in Foxborough for the past three years. There’s a reason RB James White currently leads the team in receptions. Due to the nature of the Patriots’ scheme he gets open the quickest, therefore he’s getting a lot of Jones’ targets. He’s the safety blanket for the QB, and he’s been looked at quite a bit through the first 2 weeks.
Jakobi Meyers, Agholor, and Bourne have all had a few good looking moments already this season. Those moments unfortunately have been few and far between, which isn’t good when dealing with a young QB learning the ropes of the NFL.
Damien “Beast Mode” Harris
If you’ve been paying attention during this article, you’ll notice I haven’t really enjoyed New England’s offense so far this year. I still see way too much of the Cam Newton Era offense at play here, which worries me. The only real bright spots has been Mac Jones for the most part, and of course RB Damien Harris. I won’t sugar coat this: Damien Harris is the best thing New England has going for it right now. Yeah Jones has been overall good, but without Harris’ contributions, this offense would be very bad.
Late game fumble against the Dolphins aside, Harris has been spectacular. Through two games he has rushed for 162 yards on 39 carries (4.2 YPC) and a TD. The numbers don’t really do it justice just how good he has been.
This video does though. If you’ve seen Marshawn Lynch highlights before, it’s not hard to see the resemblance. Harris is very much looking like the modern day “Beast Mode.”
He has been very fun to watch and I am excited to see what he contributes to the team for the rest of the season. My only worry is that his usage rate has been extremely high. I’d like to see some more JJ Taylor and Rhamondre Stevenson action to balance out Harris.
McDaniels’ Worries Me
Josh McDaniels has been one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL for some time now. He has been a key component to the Patriots dynasty and guided Tom Brady through the Golden years of New England football. The last few years however I’ve begun to doubt him at times. Since 2019, Brady’s curtain call in Foxborough, I’ve been uninspired by his play calling. I feel as if he’s just sometimes too conservative on offense and it hurts the Patriots. We’ve barely seen New England push the ball downfield at all. Let’s not even get into the red zone struggles. The Patriots have been the least successful team in the red zone thus far in 2021.
Again, there are plenty of other factors (all of which I’ve already talked about in this article) that could be the reason for this. Maybe McDaniels doesn’t trust his rookie quarterback to push the ball downfield just yet. Whatever the case may be, I’m hoping we see some improvement. This offense hasn’t been that good in a couple years, and it’s going to have be if it wants to compete in a crowded AFC. It also isn’t a great sign that McDaniels is already going into his bag of tricks like flea-flicker plays in Week 2 against the Jets. I’m a little worried, but I hope this team proves me wrong.
Photo: (Vincent Charcietta/USA Today Sports)
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