Okay, Patriots were beat - fair and square but WHY? Are the Jets really a better team or could NE have done things differently with a few changes in place? Without making them sound like excuses, let's dig into some facts and trends about the game to identify why the Patriots were upended by the upstart Jets:
- Gary Guyton is a good linebacker. Unfortunately, that's all he is - a good linebacker! He failed miserably as "the leader" of the defense. Guyton handled his job but could in no way, shape or form replace the loss of Jerod Mayo's playmaking ability or intimidating presence on defense. Fans would be right to blame the defense (after heaping blame on the offense) for the Jets win last night - more on that to follow. But you CANNOT, and I stress CANNOT, replace a top-10 drafted DROY with an undrafted "replacement" and expect your defense to perform at expected levels. Mayo alone could have negated a couple of Jets first downs that led to field goals - and that's not an exaggerated hypothetical. The defense is now averaging 16.5 ppg - expect that to improve when Mayo comes back with a vengeance.
- Julian Edelman is a rookie and performed well enough for a 7th-round pick on his first NFL game. Unfortunately, the media hype surrounding Edelman has us fans believing he's some sort of Wes Welker Part II. Wake up, Pats fans! I was encouraged by his performance in the game but did you REALLY expect him to make up for our 5-yr veteran, 2-time PRO-BOWL WR who set consecutive franchise and NFL records for most catches?? (yes I'm counting 2007 when he wasn't selected) That's outrageous and quite frankly unfair on the rookie! The 3rd-down conversions will return as soon as Wes is back - you KNOW it! Also, I will NOT be surprised to see Edelman emerge as the #3 wideout as the season goes on, quite frankly - which brings me to my next point....
- Joey Galloway is an early flop. Don't get me wrong, Galloway might still emerge later in the season as he struggles to find the right timing and understands Brady's trends. At this point, however, Galloway seems to be struggling early and often to get on the same page as the game's best QB and lacks (or has lost) the hands inherent in an elite WR. I think he has recorded more drops than completions in 2 games. My point remains, that unless he turns it around in a hurry, letting Jabbar Gaffney go or even to a lesser extent, cutting Greg Lewis (who lacks elite speed but has good hands) could be decisions that come back to bite the Pats. From an early display, I believe Sam Aiken has better hands and the ability to break tackles - qualities that I do not see in Galloway. Speed kills in the NFL - I contend that speed with "sure hands" kills surely. I believe, the contingency in this situation opens the door for Edelman to step up and Sam Aiken and Ben Watson to get more deeply involved in the offense. Unfornately, BB has shown a tendency to stick with his moves and keep Galloway on the field even if he was completely ineffective - the Jets #3 corner canvassed Galloway all day, guys! Expect this to change in the future!
- Disturbing trend: Was it just me or did it seem to others that Patriots STOPPED DOING WHAT WORKED AS SOON AS IT STARTED WORKING??!!!!
- Did we REALLY get away from Pressuring and blitzing Sanchez when the game was on the line?
- Did BB really just stick with a 4-man rush on passing downs after NY kept converting 1st downs??? Against an O-line FULL of 1st-round picks?? Really??
- Why did Patriots STOP RUNNING THE BALL after getting 1st downs on runs?? We have Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and even Maroney - why did NE not let the RUN setup the PASS instead of trying to do it the other way around with a blitz-happy defense???
- Why did Tom Brady keep going back to empty sets when they did not work on 3 previous drives??? Is this what it means to have a playcaller that has never called an NFL game???
Guys, these are questions that I as a fan have and as a football analyst am at a loss to explain. At one point I was convinced that BB was using this game to EVALUATE THE TEAM and some players, and PLAYS!! I was convinced that he didn't want to win the game that bad (yes I know he wanted to win - I just don't think he wanted to win as badly as the Jets!).
I truly in my heart believe we could have won the game yesterday with adjustments THAT NEVER CAME!! And if they did, NE STOPPED DOING WHAT WORKED immediately!!
Breaks my heart but somehow I have to believe that more good will come out of it than bad - NY has now played their superbowl and they've won in their minds. Good for them - noone will miss them at the REAL PARTY in February and I STILL believe the Patriots needed this game to figure out how to win against Baltimore and the Jets in November. What say you?