Well, you play like crap and that’s what happens. The Patriots escaped last week with a victory despite playing poorly, but this week they were not nearly as fortunate, facing a far superior team in the New York Jets than the Buffalo Bills. I’ll touch briefly on what I thought the Pats did well: run defense. Leon Washington was limited to less than 60 yards rushing, and they scored no rushing TDs. The defense forced the Jets to win it on the hands of rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez by not allowing more than a couple of runs for greater than a few yards. This kept the offense in third and long situations most of the afternoon. This is a good thing, as long as your defense can stop the pass. Which unfortunately, they could not.
The Pats defense had lots of problems with the pass. Mark Sanchez was free all afternoon. They barely were able to get pressure on him and Sanchez made them pay, at least during the second half. I will give the defense credit for it’s first half overall performance, but Sanchez started to pick the Pats apart in the second half. He threw a touchdown early on and then did a great job of keeping Brady and the offense off the field for much of the time. I don’t have the time of possession numbers, but I bet they were skewered way in the Jets favor for the second half. And the best way to beat the Patriots is to keep their offense off the field. Their defense is only average, and it lacks speed, pass rush capability, and star power. So keep them on the field and you can beat them, especially wit the pass.
Offensively, the Patriots look one-dimensional. They have no running game that I can see, with Taylor, Faulk and Maroney all competent but not stars. Without a real running game, it forces the Patriots to rely on Brady over and over again in order to win games. And this is problematic for a number of reasons:
1) The Patriots don’t have the receiving corps they did in 2007. Moss is still there, but Welker is hurt and Galloway and Edelman have yet to really shine as receivers. With Moss as the only deep threat, teams can double team him without fear because they know New England lacks the ability to go underneath on a consistent basis.
2) Tom Brady is still regaining his form as a Hall-of-Fame quarterback. This means that he is going to still be making mistakes, and without a run game these mistakes start to look more and more glaring. Until Brady returns to his old self, New England will not be able to rely on him to carry this team. Brady had a bad game today, it’s as simple as that. But without a running game and without a dynamic defense, there’s no way for the Pats to overcome bad performances by their star quarterback. And I fear Brady may have a couple more bad games before this season is through.
Overall, I don’t understand ESPN’s preseason hype for this Patriots team. They have a recovering Tom Brady and that’s maybe all. Today they looked overrated and like they were just going through the motions. Oh well, at least the Red Sox won.