It was absolutely not a signature performance from the Patriots’ offense, and not always a fun game to watch. But, the Patriots won a big game against New York and find themselves in much better playoff positioning than even last week, and finally
The Patriots Defense Is A Saving Grace
This game wouldn’t have even been competitive if the Patriots’ defense didn’t play as well as they did. They constantly gave the Patriots’ offense short fields by consistently putting the Jets behind the sticks and in difficult positions. Zach Wilson got nothing going, as he was constantly under duress. They got four sacks and six tackles for loss, and his statline of 9/22 for 77 yards speaks for itself.
The linebackers were awesome, with Bentley getting nine tackles, and Uche and Wilson getting pressure. The defensive backs, while not getting any interceptions, got close to a few, and more importantly, didn’t make anything easy for Wilson and the receivers. Meanwhile, Judon and Wise got ample pressure off the edge.
The Jets got in scoring position once, and had a grand total of 136 yards. They forced a whopping ten punts. The defense and special teams (shoutout to Michael Pallardy for a serviceable performance in Jake Bailey’s absence) kept the offense in the game in fact won it off Marcus Jones’ electric punt return. The offense may not match the level required to win big games, but the Patriots’ defense is absolutely championship-level.
The Offensive Line And Playcalling Cannot Stay Like This
Lack of harmony. No better way to describe the Patriots’ offense right now. When 345 total yards leads to all of one score, three scorable possessions if the missed FG are counted, something is amiss. The offensive line wasn’t helped by the departure of Andrews – potentially a huge loss – but performed really poorly all around, with Mac Jones being sacked six times, and in general, there not being much time to construct plays.
The playcalling didn’t match the situations at all, and there were several perplexing third and fourth down calls, and it just didn’t seem like they could make the plays they needed in big moments. Penalties, whether they were holds, illegal formations, or something else, also seemed to sink the team when it mattered the most. Throughout the Mac era, whether it’s been this year or last year, being behind the sticks has doomed the team, and the offensive line has put them in long-yardage situations all year. Especially when the defense is producing at this level, for the offense not to be able to respond in kind is a travesty.
Moving forward, with games against much more powerful offenses coming up all season, as soon as Thursday with Minnesota, the Patriots need to convert more often, especially on the plus side of the field.
Mac Jones Played Better Than The Scoreline Made Him Look
Four incompletions and three points don’t go together. And Mac certainly wasn’t perfect. Probably his biggest flaw today, one that has been seen in these bigger games is that he doesn’t always make the best decisions during duress in terms of where he positions himself. At times, he stepped forward in a collapsing pocket, which just constrained him more, and at other times, he would drop back too much, causing larger losses of yardage when he was sacked.
However, considering the situation, Mac actually did a pretty good job with the time the offensive line gave him. Out of the Patriots’ 13 first downs, eight were created through his passes, and many of his other throws got the Patriots near first-down yardage. His accuracy, at 23/27 passing for 246 yards was on display, as well as his increased aggression with three completions of over 20 yards and over nine yards per attempt. The true drive killers weren’t him, they were sacks, stuffed runs, or dropped passes like Thornton’s drop on what would have been a third-down conversion.
Mac improved on a number of things he had been struggling with, things that had stagnated the Patriots offense. First of all, not only did he not have any interceptions, he had no turnover-worthy throws, nor did he allow a strip sack. In a game that was all about avoiding mistakes in big moments, Mac’s ball security certainly helped. He also had an improved pocket presence, threw with more zip than usual, and even made some big throws on the run. This game is a sign of good things moving forward, and ugly as it was, the Patriots have won three in a row.
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