Picked-up pieces from second-quarter review of the New England Patriots’ 27-25 win over the New York Jets:
1. Running back Jonas Gray only was on for 12 snaps and totaled just three carries, but that doesn’t mean he was not a factor. Maybe the most encouraging play for him came on Julian Edelman ’s 16-yard catch on the right sideline (7:52). It’s the type of play that tells me has a chance to succeed here because he picked up the correct defender after play-action, making a nice block on blitzing linebacker David Harris. That is critical for any running back in this system.
2. After seeing how much distance Jets kicker Nick Folk had on his 46-yard field goal (7:57) to the open end of the stadium, I think there was a good chance he would have made the game-ending 58-yarder had Chris Jones not blocked it. The ball was really carrying in the humid conditions. CBS’ technology later showed a replay and estimated Folk's second-quarter attempt would have been good from 56 yards.
3. The Patriots are inconsistent creating pressure with the standard four-man rush, but a nice game with Rob Ninkovich and Vince Wilfork produced a hurry and incomplete pass (11:37), with Ninkovich surging free after looping inside as two linemen blocked Wilfork. That doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but is the type of thing coaches will surely mark as a solid play.
4. Continuing a theme from the first quarter, the Patriots’ defense looked tired early as they struggled to get off blocks and didn’t consistently tackle with good technique (a lot of lunging and not being the low man). This particularly showed up on six straight Jets runs (4:07 to 1:14).
5. Tough penalty call (11:30) on cornerback Darrelle Revis on third-and-11, as former NFL official Jim Daopolous tweeted that was one he wouldn’t have thrown. But as Bill Belichick has said, there are always going to be calls like that in a game, on both sides, and it’s how a team responds to it.
6. Rookie defensive end Zach Moore is an intriguing prospect who still needs some time, and one example of this came when he was summoned to replace Chandler Jones (9:17) and aligned incorrectly, perhaps thinking it was a sub package where he would be rushing from an interior position. Linebacker Jamie Collins quickly spotted it and re-positioned him to right end at about the same time the ball was snapped. Drafting and developing rookies is a crucial part of the team-building process and there are times when a coaching staff has to accept some on-field growing pains. That play, a 3-yard run to the opposite side, stood out in that area. The Patriots could have been victimized if it was a run play to Moore's side and he wasn't in position.
7. Nice awareness by Chandler Jones to peel out of his rush and identify a screen on third-and-6, as the Patriots had the play well defended at the linebacker level as well with Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins (incomplete pass, 8:02). This was not a good overall game for the defense, but they did make plays or force the Jets into mistakes in key situations early, while also benefiting from some Jets miscues (e.g. dropped Jace Amaro pass in the first quarter).
8. One personnel-related adjustment for the Jets came when they matched the Patriots’ 2-WR/2-TE/1-RB package that included tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright with their nickel after getting burned in base on the opening drive. Cornerback Philip Adams lined up across from Wright, treating him as a receiver. The Patriots had success running against the nickel (17-yard Shane Vereen run, 5:44, with a run away from the YY wing on the right side). That's what they have to do when teams match that package with nickel.
9. The usage of safety Patrick Chung is notable, as the Patriots are playing him in the base defense but taking him off the field when the opponent goes heavy with receivers. On Thursday night, when the Jets went to their 3-WR/1-TE/1-RB package, Chung was usually subbed off for cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. The coaching staff is playing to Chung's strengths.
10. Looked like special-teams captain Matthew Slater vacated his lane by anticipating a left return on Walter Powell’s 62-yard runback, while cornerback Kyle Arrington missed a tackle contributing to the result. CBS had a nice end-zone camera shot showing the hole opening up the middle, with Don Jones effectively double-teamed. So maybe a combination of bad spacing by the Patriots and good execution by the Jets on that one.
11. Maybe could have been offsetting penalties on Jordan Devey and Jets defensive tackle Antwan Barnes for a late hit on Tom Brady, as Daopolous tweeted, but I still see that as a mental mistake by Devey. It's one thing to stick up for a teammate, but not when putting the team at risk from a points perspective. I meant to ask Bill Belichick about it this morning to hear his take and blanked; 5-yard penalty on me for that. Meanwhile, Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was fortunate he wasn't penalized for coming off the bench area without his helmet on after the play.