Gresh's Grades: Defense raises overall GPA
A win is a win . . . again
I start the same way as last week: They won. But this one is different than because the Pats' offense disappeared after the first quarter. And there were lots of things wrong: Quarterback inaccuracy. Protection issues. Drops from the wide receivers. Wrong routes being run. Fortunately for the Pats, the defense was stellar in shutting down a woeful Jets offense and forced lots of turnover, including three in close-and-late situations. A win is a win, but this squad is far from playoff ready.
The grade isn't an F only because they scored 13 points on their own, but there were problems. TB12's frustration boiled over because his WRs were letting him down and it ended up becoming a story that he had to address in his postgame comments. The running game, which was functional early, was abandoned midway through the second quarter, putting more pressure on the QB and adding to the woes. The perimeter players need to do a better job all the way around. But unlike some of my colleagues (Tanguay), I don't question whether they'll be good. Dobson and Thompkins will be productive. Just be ready to embrace them through the mistakes.
When we started the postgame show, I didn't know the extent of how demonstrative TB12 was on the sidelines. After watching the game on TV, I know why he was criticized. He needs to push the WRs and himself for this offense to go. But he needs to do it in a way that makes those players respond. He wasn't perfect, and his completion percentage shows it. He airmailed a few and his aggravation at the WRs hurt his game. Playing with passion is one thing; playing his position with anger is another.
RUNNING BACKS: C-
Hard to grade because -- after a decent start -- they went virtually unused until late in the game when the Pats were trying to control the clock. I thought Ridley was running well early; he just wasn't creasing the Jets' 'D'. But you have to stick with running the ball; doing it once a series doesn't allow anyone to get going. And I'd like to see Blount run hard and with some purpose; you ain't Fred Astaire, LeGarrette. Nice work by James Develin in a grunt role.
WIDE RECIEVERS: F
The play design on Dobson's TD was the right down and distance, right spot on the field, and right formation with Solder in as the TE on the play side. The Jets bought hard on the run fake and Dobson was wide open. Other than that . . . Whether it was running the wrong route, dropping the ball, or, in the case of Thompkins, not keeping his feet, the WRs need to get better. Thompkins was much improved in fighting through contact to get open, and let's remember this was Dobson's first regular-season turn. They'll develop. But let's not overreact and throw the baby out with the bathwater.
TIGHT ENDS: F
Where were they? Hoo-man isn't enough without someone to compliment him. Here's all you need to know: The second-highest number of snaps taken by anyone at this position after Hooey was . . . Nate Solder. Yikes. Gronk, help!
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-
They weren't allowed by Josh McDaniels to set those pads and make a difference in the run game. They protected TB12 reasonably well. The stat sheet shows only one sack, but there was some pressure on Brady at various points in the game. And because Solder has seen so much work at TE, I'm grading six guys, with Marcus Cannon thrown in the mix. It was good; not great. And I guess this week the head bob from Ryan Wendell didn't contribute to the pass rush like it did last week (snark snark).
Excellent work by this group, which is getting better and better. Nine of the Jets' 15 possessions were three plays or less, resulting in four turnovers. While most are waiting to see if they can hold an offense like Atlanta's to 17 points in two weeks, I see a group that is starting to believe in itself and gaining some swagger. The pass rush got better as the game went on and the secondary took advantage of every opportunity it had to make a big play. Nickle is the base defense here now, and we need to embrace it. Still need some improvement against the run, but to close out the way they did in the fourth quarter covers some of the warts they still have.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A-
Would still like to see them be more consistent with the pass rush, but four sacks is pretty damn good and they got numerous pressures forcing some of those three-and-outs. I'm really starting to like Buchanan and Jones rushing from the same side, with Jones sliding down from his DE position to DT. They did a respectable job against the run, but still need to be more stout in that phase of the game. But through two weeks, there are a lot of positives here.
The rotation was expanded this week with Mayo, Hightower, Spikes and Collins garnering time, with No. 51 and No. 54 leading the way. They will continue to have to get better against the run. Especially Hightower getting off blocks, because at times they attacked the middle of the 'D'. I feel that this group is getting better in coverage, communication, and playing together.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: A
Three interceptions in the final four drives in the fourth quarter sealed this one. The coverage was excellent ,which allowed them to make those kinds of impact plays. Look, in today's NFL playing this position is harder than ever and you're going to give up some points. I thought Talib did a great job of playing the concept of what they're trying to do here, which allowed him to play the ball. And Dennard can play. But Kyle Arrington has been most impressive the past two weeks. His tackle on third-and-short, forcing a punt, was exceptional and has been indicative of the physicality with which he's played this season.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C+
While Allen got better this week with the Jets selling out with an 11 rush, he still isn't what Mesko was in pinning the ball inside the 15-yard line. With his 11 punts, you'd like to see two more inside the 20s instead of touchbacks. As for Gostkowski, missing a FG before the rain is inexcusable, but drilling every kickoff for a touchback is exactly what you're looking for. Edelman is an elite punt returner. Blount shouldn't be on kickoff return.
"IT AIN'T BROKE"
1) Forcing turnovers. Well done by the 'D' this week. 2) Timely play. Last week vs. Buffalo it was the 'O'. This week it was the 'D'. 3) The FG operation. I know Gostkowski missed, but he's fine.
"BUT IT NEEDS FIXING"
1) The Red Zone 'O' and Goal-line. 2-for-8 doesn't get it done on the season. 2) First-down plays. Gain more on first down, means you will be better than 4-for-18 on third down. 3) Catch the ball and be where you're supposed to be. This applies to everyone. —— Andy Gresh is a talkshow host on 98.5 The Sports Hub and for nine years has worked pre- and postgame analysis on the Patriots Radio Network. He is also co-author of the recently released book “The Great Book of Boston Sports Lists.”