Baby Steps

Was it perfect? Nope. Did it look like the Patriots of old? Not at all. But a win is a win, and for this depleted Patriots team, you’ll take them any way you can get them.

In many ways, the Jets lost this game more than the Patriots won it. The 12 men on the field penalty during a field goal? Flacco throwing an absolute prayer into double coverage up 7 with 6 minutes left? Horrible mistakes that make you wonder if Adam Gase was actively trying to lose.

Offense

Despite the Jets wretched defense, it was still nice to see the Pats put up 30 points on the board. Cam Newton played his best overall game as a Patriot and was highly efficient (77% completion percentage). More importantly, Newton didn’t turn the ball over, something that’s plagued him and doomed the Patriots all season.

Jakobi Meyers was obviously the star of the show with a monster 12 catches for 169 yards. The second year player has improved tremendously this year. Meyers has done a much better job using his footwork to beat man to man coverage this year, a stark contrast to 2019. His development has been a revelation to a slowly improving Patriots passing game.

Damien Harris once again ran the ball hard, although his chest injury in the 4th quarter is cause for concern for the 3rd round pick out of Alabama. Rex Burkhead spelled Harris and performed adamantly.

Defense

Simply put, the defense was putrid. JC Jackson had a dreadful game at corner, and Jason McCourty wasn’t far behind. It’s clear that this group is desperately missing Stephon Gilmore. The putrid play of the secondary is a major cause for concern for the team going forward.

The pass rush wasn’t much better. It seemed like Flacco had all day to throw, despite losing star rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton in the first half. It was nice to see Chase Winovich earn his starting job back on the edge. Winovich had a solid game, especially against the run.

I was still baffled by the lack of playing time for the trio of defensive rookies in Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche, and Anfernee Jennings. It really does not make much sense to me. Developing these three is an essential element of this season, and playing Terez Hall and Terrence Brooks over them does absolutely nothing towards that development. The fact that Hall was called up from the practice squad and played over 90% of the defensive snaps speaks volumes about both the roster itself and how Belichick feels about Uche and Jennings. Letting them learn on the field is the only way for them to grow into themselves and tap into the vast potential they each possess.

Next up is Lamar Jackson and the vaunted Baltimore Ravens. This one might get ugly. This Patriots defense had no answer for Jackson last year, and have lost significant talent since then. I wouldn’t bet on the Pats in this spot, even at home.

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