Jets vs Patriots Review

Although the Patriots remained perfect on Sunday the New York Jets came to play in Foxboro.

The Jets deployed a blitz heavy defense that forced the Patriots offense to speed things up, and settle for small gains instead of holding out for longer plays downfield.

The Patriots defensive game plan focused primarily on stopping the run and Jets top receiver Brandon Marshall.

At the end of the day, the Jets gave the Patriots a physical challenge, but didn’t have enough defensively to slow down Tom Brady and company.

On Offense:

Jets Blitz Brady: The Jets have the unique advantage of having the horses in the secondary to matchup against the Patriots skilled position players. Due to this, they blitzed Brady 26 times on 60 drop-backs. For comparison, on average, the Patriots opponents this season have blitzed Brady just over 9 times per game. The result of the blitz heavy approach was that Brady had to settle for short completions, his 6.57 yds per attempt was the lowest this season. Per usual, Brady handled the blitz well completing 16-24 passes for 158 yards, and a TD when blitzed. The Patriots had one-on-one coverage on the outside for the majority of the game, but couldn’t take full advantage because of the incoming rush.

3rd Down and Red Zone: Coming into the game I outlined how this was a strength vs strength matchup on paper. The #1 rated offense vs the #1 rated defense. A main reason why the Jets and Patriots are so successful on those sides of the ball is because of their performance on 3rd down and in the red zone. The Jets weren’t able to slow the Patriots much in those areas. As they maintained their normal league leading pace on 3rd down (8-16, 50%) and in the red zone (3-5, 60%). The Jets should be credited for outstanding coverage in the red zone, they made the Pats work for the 3 TD’s. The Patriots also converted on a 3rd and 17 with a 27-yard strike from Brady to Edelman. It was a great route by Edelman to beat the linebacker and juke the safety in bracket coverage.

Danny Amendola: Opposing teams have obviously keyed in on Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski this season, which has left opening for other Patriots receivers. Amendola has been the beneficiary of those favorable matchups, and has taken full advantage. On his go-ahead TD grab, the Patriots ran a double-slants with Edelman going slightly deeper than Amendola. Jets safety Dion Bailey was so worried about Edelman, that he doubled him in the end zone, leaving Amendola in single coverage:

Wide Receiver Drops: One of the main takeaways from this one was the insane amount of drops that the Patriots receivers had on Sunday. The official tally was 7, with Brandon LaFell dropping 5 balls on his own. Some of the blame must be given to Brady, as he threw low on a number of the drops. I chalk this up to Brady and LaFell still getting on the same page, as the timing seemed to be a bit off on many of the drops.

Brady in the 4th Quarter: Tom Brady saving his best for last is something Patriots fans have gron accustom to. Sunday was more of the same from the future Hall of Famer. Brady was 14-17 for 150 yards, 2 TD, and a passer rating of 142.6(!) to lead the Patriots on yet another come from behind win in the 4th quarter.

Dion Lewis’ Impact: Quicky, I thought it was obvious that the Patriots missed Dion Lewis on Sunday. The Jets have a fantastic front 7, loaded with physical players. Having said that, they lack speed and coverage ability in their linebackers. Lewis would have feasted in the passing game.

On Defense

Dont’a Hightower: The best player on Sunday for either team was Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower. It was obvious that the Pats missed their best defensive players against the Colts, and he was back on a mission on Sunday. Hightower tallied 10 tackles, 8 quarterback pressures, 2 quarterback hits, and was a dominant force. Watch Hightower clog the hole on Jets running back Chris Ivory and throw the 220 pound running back to the ground.

Then, watch Hightower pancake one of the best centers in the NFL in Nick Mangold on a blitz to free Jamie Collins up for the sack:

Run Defense: Piggybacking off of Hightower’s dominant performance, the Patriots clearly made it an emphasis to slow down the leagues leading rush in Ivory, and were very successful. Hightower led the way along with Jamie Collins, but credit Akiem Hicks, Malcolm Brown, and Sealver Siliga for standing their ground against a good Jets offensive line. The big DT’s ability to anchor at the line of scrimmage freed Hightower and Collins up to go get the ball carrier. Dominique Easley also had another good game, watch here as he occupies Jets guard James Carpenter allowing Hightower to go make the tackle:

Secondary Matchups: The Patriots were predominantly in cover-1 (single high safety)  for most of the game. The gameplan was clearly focused around slowing down Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, who came into the game with 4 straight 100-yard receiving games. Logan Ryan drew Marshall in coverage with Devin McCourty providing support over the top. The Patriots basically doubled Marshall with Ryan and McCourty, leaving Malcolm Butler on an island with Eric Decker and Justin Coleman in the slot with Kerley, Chris Owusu, and Devin Smith. Credit Ryan and McCourty for holding down Marshall. Also, it looked like an ugly game for Malcolm Butler, but he was trusted with covering Eric Decker by himself for much of the first half. Butler rebounded nicely in the 2nd half, as Decker was held to just 2 receptions on 5 targets for 35 yards (4-7, 59 yards in 1st half).