Friday, November 14, 2008

Pat Patriot and Mr. Hyde

It was a hell of a game, and a good win for the Jets, but this is not the sort of game where Eric Mangini is going to go back and look at the game tape and get the warm fuzzies.

This is what Mangini will see that was good - Brett Favre was 9 of 12 on third down. Leon Washington was a the difference in the game as a monster on special teams. And he has a physical, punishing rookie tight end that refuses to go down on the first hit.

This is what he's going to see that he won't be happy about...

Favre was 9 of 12 because he was able to look off rookies Gary Guyton, Jonathan Wilhite, and other youngsters. Even with the success he had, a veteran like Favre should have been able to torch this young defense (yeah, you heard me - young. The only starters over 30 right now are Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and Delta O'Neal). Yes, he had a solid game, but this was a defense ripe for the picking and the Jets just barely eked out a win. Over and above that, the Jets were aided and abetted by a horrible defensive holding call on their last drive to go up 31-24 (if the refs wanted to call illegal contact, I would have understood, but that wasn't anywhere close to holding).

The Jets defense only came up with two stops - both in the first half. Otherwise, they got off lightly due to Patriot mistakes throughout the game - a Gaffney drop on what would have been a first down reception, Ben Watson's fumble that I can only conclude was forced by Claude Rains, an inexplicable offensive miscue when Dan Koppen snapped the ball before Matt Cassel was ready. Even with these miscues abetting the New York defense, they still gave up 511 yards (468 to what is essentially a rookie quarterback), 31 points, and the Patriots effectively removed the Jets best defender, Kris Jenkins, from the game by going spread.

I'm not writing any of this to make myself feel better about the Pats loss. It sucked, and I'm not happy about it. There was plenty I was not thrilled about there - their inability to get off the field on third down, blown coverages on defense, their attempts at ritual football suicide. It was, essentially, a Jekyll and Hyde performance.

These are all going to bring the Belichick beat-down on the players in the film room.

There were, of course bright spots - Cassel's play, the fact they roared back in the second half with 24 points, the play of Jerrod Mayo, the fact that the team is beginning to show they can overcome errors. All of that is good. But it wasn't good enough last night.

In spite of all the mistakes on offense, 31 points should be enough to win a game. This loss lies on the shoulders of the special teams and defense. Too often the Pats D was in position to get off the field, and too often they failed to do so. I won't even get started on special teams.

All in all, this means a division title is more difficult, but not impossible, but to do so, they will have to have a better record than the Jets at the end of the season.

6 comments:

Suldog said...

Tough loss. That Moss/Cassel completion with one second left about took my head off.

Kevin Smith said...

I watched the fourth quarter from the TV in my bedroom. My wife had dozed off at around the two minute warning.

I went absolutely nuts.

The wife woke up, made me rewind (TiVo)so she could see what happened.

I take solace in the fact the Jets play the Titans next. Sure, the Miami game is always tough, but I would be surprised if the Pats aren't ready for the wildcat formation next week.

Dave said...

I look at this like the loss to the Rams in 2001. It sucks they lost, but it puts everyone on notice. In 2001, the message was the Pats were for real. Yesterday, it was that you have to game plan for Cassel and you can't stack the box.

The other thing is Mayo...if he maintains this level of play he is a lock for defensive rookie of the year. He reminds me of Johnny Rembert, except more physically gifted.

Kevin Smith said...

I saw your post, and I do agree.

What I find funny is that a lot of pundits saw this as a referendum on where the Jets stood. I don't know that I see them as significantly improved. Sure, they beat the Pats - but it took a bad call and a coin toss to eke out a three point win over a team sans Brady, Maroney, Harrison, and Warren. What happens if even one of them plays?

It was quite a game. Mayo was impressive, but just as much, I think I enjoyed Cassel's best impression of Steve Grogan.

the blue state blogger said...

"Too often the Pats D was in position to get off the field, and too often they failed to do so."

You know, this has actually been a mantra of Pats' teams for a few years now. It's just that they usually only give up yards, not points. But it still kept the offense off the field for big chunks at a time.

Kevin Smith said...

Yeah, and in the past they would at least hold the opponent to FG's, but that's not been happening lately. Oddly, it seems the team might make the playoffs because of its offense, not in site of it.

Didn't see that one coming when Brady went down.