Patriots need a challenge; is one really out there?
Pleeeeeeze NFL, get some teams that can actually play professional football on the New England Patriots schedule.
Sure, you fans are loving this, it’s a rout every seven days for you to enjoy, 30-14 on this particular Sunday at sun-splashed, Antonio Brown-free Gillette Stadium.
Is it a testament to how incredibly good the Patriots are or how bad the quality of a portion of the NFL has become?
The final tally for three weeks is 106-17, Patriots vs. opponents. The level of opposition talent is brutal, the coaching in most cases is abysmal, and the football is, as a result, fairly awful.
In the locker room on Sunday, the media was giving accolades to the New England defense, which certainly deserves something for how it’s played with no touchdowns allowed in three weeks.
“As a group, we’re doing everything,” Patriots safety Duron Harmon. “There’s good communication, we’re tackling, we’re getting pressure, we’re covering well. We’re doing everything and all the little things right.”
And a lot of teams are doing everything wrong. Bad football was the star, and we have to remember that the Jets, as usual, didn’t have anyone good at quarterback as second year pro Sam Darnold was out with mono. Luke Falk (12 of 22 for 98 yards ouch) was the latest no name we were subjected to, and predictably the Jets didn’t score a point on offense.
As their coach, Adam Gase, said, “Offensively, we were atrocious. As bad as you can get.”
The only reason it was as close as it was (30-14) in the final quarter is (A) Brady seemed to have trouble once his binky Julian Edelman left the game with a chest injury, and (B) two big mistakes by preseason rookie heroes Gunner Olszewski (muffed punt recovered by the Jets’ Arthur Maulet in the end zone) and backup QB Jarret Stidham (pick six by one of the few good Jets, safety Jamal Adams).
Why did things slow down offensively for New England?
“Just a lot of things,” Brady said afterward. “I’ve got to see the film. Obviously, not good enough to score points. I wish we would score points on every possession. We just didn’t get the job done. …
“When you’re missing your best players, it gets more challenging and your margin of error goes down. But every team deals with it. I mean, (the Jets) certainly weren’t healthy today.”
No, they weren’t, but usually they never are. Meanwhile, there are some interesting stories here. One is certainly linebacker Jamie Collins, who is playing All World football in his second Patriot go round with seven tackles and two sacks (and a near pick) yesterday.
“It’s always good to be out there playing with a group of guys like this,” he said. “I’ve got 10 other great guys out there. Makes my job a little easier. … It’s all coming together.”
Another is wideout Josh Gordon, the center of who Sunday had six catches for 83 yards, one an amazing sideline grab and another a go-up-and-get-it type on third and 22. With Brown gone, he goes back to being a big go-to guy again for Brady, and his comparison after the game to his own plights off the field and this team’s tenacious mentality were impressive.
“Physically, I think I’ve always been a a fighter in somce kind of way,” he said. “Just have to fight back, be the underdog. That’s my mindset when I step out there on the field and play each week.”
They’ll need that mindset down the road. Perhaps back-to-back games with Cleveland and Baltimore in just over a month might provide us with something to watch. Definitely the stretch with Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston and Kansas City Nov. 17-Dec. 8. Sure, circle that Chiefs game.
“We’re getting there,” Harmon said. “If I can tell you where we’re going to be week nine or week 10, we’re still working through things, still working through disguises, still working through coverages, we’re still learning so much about ourselves. We’re getting there though.”
With the exception of a few teams, the rest of the NFL can’t say the same thing. Once again that includes the Jets.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK, or firstname.lastname@example.org