Zach Wilson Saves the Patriots' Season
It was far from pretty, and you could even say the Patriots had no business winning on Sunday. Even after some atrocious first-half play calling by Matt Patrica, and some bad chunk plays given up on defense which kept things way more interesting than they needed to be. Luckily, however, the other team had J-E-T-S on the side of the helmet, and with Zach Wilson being Zach Wilson, the Patriots win their 13th straight game against the New York Jets, snapping their four-game win streak in the process.
Outside of the opening drive of the third quarter, as well as Rhamondre Stevenson and Jakobi Meyers doing their thing, it's hard to feel optimistic about the offense in its current form for the long haul. Once again Matt Patricia called another brutal game and would have been responsible for a three-point first half if not for a brutal interception by Wilson (more on him later).
Patricia also continues to go down with the ship on wide receiver screens, and the Jets were ready for basically all of them. Not to mention his brutal 4th&2 call coming close to biting the Patriots at the end. Had they gone for three, the late TD by New York would have been completely meaningless. Either that or call a coherent play call in that situation, both work.
Onto Mac Jones, who had some bright spots and lowlights on the day, but was pedestrian on the whole. Granted, his offensive line gave him next to no time to work with on Sunday. In the first quarter alone, the Jets had three sacks, followed up by three more for the rest of the day. Some bad protection by Marcus Cannon led to a pick in the second quarter, which luckily only resulted in three points. On the flip side, Jones got away with a brutal pass over the middle late to C.J. Mosely, who never secured what should have been an easy pick. Not all on McCorkle on Sunday, but he gets a decent chunk of the blame pie here, along with his offensive line. Going to need better than 24/35 for 194 Yards with a touchdown and pick moving forward.
Mondre, Jakobi and Folk (?) Come Up Clutch
Rhamondre Stevenson, after a rough outing against the Bears on the ground, got right back on track against the Jets. The rushing numbers were solid, 16 carries for 71 yards, but that doesn't factor in his seven catches on eight targets for 72 yards, both team highs. Oddly enough the Patriots were 0-3 entering this week when Stevenson had over 20 receiving yards, safe to say they would have lost had he not given them what he did today.
Jakobi Meyers meanwhile is either just shy of reaching, or already at the point of conversation of being the new Julien Edelman/Deion Branch/Troy Brown of this offense. Whenever the Patriots have needed something to get going on offense, No. 16 has delivered the goods. Meyers was targeted four times on either third or fourth down and had three catches for 34 yards and a five-yard touchdown score. Bill Belichick did this last year with Adrian Phillips, and I think they need to give Meyers an in-season contract extension. He's a proven commodity at this juncture and there is no guarantee he returns should he hit the open market.
Now for the ever-steady Nick Folk, whose 5/5 day on-field goal attempts proved invaluable. This after missing a 58-yard attempt in warmups to boot. Kind of crazy to think this is the same guy who missed a barrage of relatively easy kicks in a Patriots Buccaneer TNF game five years ago to where he's been since he arrived in Foxborough. Not batting 1.000, but Folk has been cash money as it relates to his peers, save maybe Justin Tucker for obvious reasons.
Defensive Trick or Treat
Some ill-timed chunk plays given up on defense and a pair of touchdowns were by no means great, but without Kyle Dugger or Christian Barmore, I can walk away feeling good, not great with this unit as a whole. Just two sacks on the day (Lawrence Guy and Josh Uche), but it would be harder to count the plays where Zach Wilson wasn't pressured. Matt Judon was once again terrorizing the line of scrimmage, batting a pair of passes down at the line of scrimmage and simply making things tough with regularity.
Three interceptions also helped out the cause as well, all on horrendous throws by Zach Wilson, the latter two being especially egregious. Devin McCourty picked up a pair of those, putting himself in the league interceptions lead among active players in the NFL. When told about that post-game, he simply said "I'm old". Both touchdowns meanwhile were on Josh Bledsoe in coverage, who was getting some serious playtime in this tilt. The first score is hard to put on him, as it was objectively good coverage. On the second, he was beaten rather badly inside the red zone. First real game action so hard to get on him too hard here.
The Jets' inability to get anything going on the ground was a testament to some great run defense by New England. New York averaged a meager 3.4 yards per carry, with Michael Carter leading the team with 26 yards on the ground. Definitely not the Bears unit of David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, but a good confidence booster going into next week.
Still the Jets
They can apparently have as good a draft as anyone in the league, have a real head coach, and some real star power on both sides of the ball and it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, the team residing in East Rutherford, New Jersey still has J-E-T-S on the side of the helmet and that will never change. The key point of this game was a would-be pick-six on Mac Jones that would have made things 17-3 at the time. Defensive lineman John Franklin Meyers however drew a roughing the passer penalty on a hit where he left his feet on what was a late hit. Furthermore, the hit had zero effect on the pass, it was just a horrible throw by Mac. Just a really bad penalty to take all things considered, especially when cost the Jets six points at the minimum.
In the second half, you could feel the Jets not playing with the same energy on both sides of the ball. Zach Wilson also didn't help out with his three interceptions and smorgasbord of missed targets in this one. Wilson also didn't even look the way of Elijah Moore in this one after he was back on the field for the first time since requesting a trade. Denzel Mims, another disgruntled wideout, saw more targets here. The Patriots could very well not have "the guy" in Mac Jones, but in his current state, I can confidently say Zach Wilson is not the future of the New York Jets. He also just saved the season of his own team's arch-rival today as well. On top of now having two games against said teams with at least three picks.
Up Next: the Indianapolis Colts; Staring Jim Irsay
Outside of a stunning upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs, it has been a disaster of a season so far for Jim Irsay's Indianapolis Colts. Their latest yearly quarterback Matt Ryan has already been benched, and in his place is longtime University of Texas signal-caller Sam Elingher. You may recall him claiming Texas was "back" after a win in the 2019 Sugar Bowl. Of course, Texas never made it back to the BigXII Title Game or an NY6 Bowl game with Elingher again, but I digress.
After a near MVP season in 2021, it has been tough sledding to simply get anything going for Jonathan Taylor in 2022. Save for a 161-yard outing in Week 1, Taylor has yet to go over 75 yards rushing this season. Furthermore, he left Sunday's game against the artists formerly known as the Washington Football Team with an ankle injury. this after missing two games recently with the same issue. Worth noting that the Colts won both games where he was inactive going in, but you would obviously rather have Taylor on the field than not.
Defensively, they brought in old friend Stephon Gilmore during the spring to join their secondary which already includes Kenny Moore and Julian Blackmon. Not a bad front seven in Indianapolis either with DeForest Buckner, Yannick Ngakoue, Kwity Paye, and Shaq Leonard either. This unit gave New England fits last season, but the mastermind behind that defense, Matt Eberflus isn't there anymore. Will be interesting to see how Gus Bradley plays it differently this year.
Final Score: New England Patriots 22, New York Jets 17
Gaffney's Three Stars:
1st Star – Rhamondre Stevenson (16 Carries for 71 Yards, 7 Catches for 72 Yards)
2nd Star – Nick Folk (5/5 on FG Attempts, 3/3 from 40+ yards out)
3rd Star – Devin McCourty (2 INTS)