There were fumbles, missed blocks, bad decisions … and that was all before the rain started at halftime. The Patriots escaped with a 13-10 win over the Jets in their home opener on Thursday, but we watched two teams play some bad football. (Or did we just watch two bad teams play football?) Let’s break it down.
1. Tom Brady doesn’t have much to work with right now
How frustrating of a night was this for the Patriots star? Well, let’s let the pictures tell the story. When his receivers weren’t dropping the ball, they were running the wrong routes. Observe:
Believe it, Tommy boy was upset about this play. Check out his reaction on the sidelines after New England was forced to settle for a field goal.
Brady finished the night 19 of 39 for 185 yards. Through two games this season Brady’s completion percentage is just 52.7 percent, which is troubling when you consider he has a career percentage of 63.7. The Patriots’ injury issues (Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen and Zach Sudfeld all out) along with their already questionable depth is causing problems. Young wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins couldn’t put together an even game for the second straight week.
However, what I found especially troubling was Brady’s body language. He was visibly pouting and yelling at teammates. There’s nothing wrong with motivating, but berating people doesn’t help. Great leaders respond well under adversity and Tom’s current attitude is not exactly constructive.
I guess the three rings are why, but when Brady screams at teammates, it’s viewed as noble. When Cutler does it, it’s terrible.
For what it’s worth, Brady did own up to his attitude in the postgame news conference.
“I gotta do a better job with my body language,” Brady said.
Head coach Bill Belichick stuck up for his quarterback.
“Tom’s probably the best leader around, so I wouldn’t be too critical of him,” Belichick said. We’ll take their word for it.
Things will have to change for the Patriots soon as they next face a brutal four-game stretch against the Buccaneers, Falcons, Bengals and Saints.
2. Geno Smith made critical mistakes at the worst possible time
The Jets didn’t win on this day, but they had a chance. Down by three points in the fourth quarter, the Jets’ rookie quarterback was driving his team down the field with a chance to tie, or even take the lead. But on third-and-5 from the Patriots’ 27-yard line, with less than 12 minutes to play, Geno was flushed out the pocket and threw a bad pass that was tipped by Kyle Arrington and then intercepted by Aqib Talib.
That’s a killer. The play wasn’t there and had Smith just thrown the ball away, the Jets had a decent chance at hitting a game-tying field goal.
The one time tonight Geno hasn’t erred on the side of caution. Has been throwing them away.
What made it worse is Smith’s second pick, which came two possessions later. He came up short on a deep pass on third-and-4 and the ball fell into Alfonzo Dennard’s hands and killed a drive that was about to enter Patriots territory. He threw his third pick with less than a minute remaining to ice the game.
I get it, he was trying to make plays and get his team out front, but Smith needs to stick with the process in situations like that and make wise choices. That’s something that will come with experience. For the most part, he played a decent game.
3. Thank heavens for Julian Edelman, eh Boston?
Did you pay attention to our FOX Fantasy Football experts this week? If you did, you would have grabbed Edelman off the waiver wire. And you would have been rewarded handsomely.
The receiver was the only bright spot for the Patriots offense as he pulled down a career-high 13 catches for 78 yards. None was more clutch than his final one of the night, with the Patriots facing a third-and-5 from their own 36-yard line with three minutes to play. Edelman broke free across the middle and pulled down a catch and gained nine yards, which was enough for a first down and allowed the Patriots to run the clock down to a minute before punting.
Who knows — if it wasn’t for Julian, Tom Terrific might have finished the game with Tim Tebow-like numbers.
4. The Jets have a problem with Stephen Hill
Gang Green spent a second-round draft pick in 2012 on the wide receiver and so far, the results have been underwhelming. His hands have been questionable, a fact which was on full display on Thursday night.
Hill turned the ball over in the first quarter after pulling down a nifty 33-yard pass from Geno Smith. While being dragged to the ground, he failed to secure the ball properly and Talib’s leg wound up knocking the ball loose around midfield. If that wasn’t bad enough, he dropped two very catchable passes when he was open. Don’t be fooled by his four catches for 86 yards … Hill isn’t getting it done.
The worst part is the Jets don’t have better options at the position. Santonio Holmes is still working himself back into shape and Clyde Gates hasn’t proven to be anything more than a stopgap. It’s ugly.