Curran's Takeaways: Tone-setting opening drive showed Patriots' clinical precision


The Patriots set the tone with an opening drive that was more about patience and precision that power. A 16-play drive that included conversions of third-and-7 to Jakobi Meyers who sat down in the middle of the zone and gained 9, a third-and-10 to Julian Edelman in the left flat for 14 with Meyers getting a key block, a third-and-5 to a crossing Ben Watson for 10 and then a third-and-2 pitch to Sony Michel following Watson into the end zone. 

The dissection itself was vintage Tom Brady. Processing quickly, fundamentally perfect on the throws and dialed in with accuracy. The mix of playcalling, personnel, formationing and — most importantly, execution — is what the Patriots can unleash when they have 11 days to prepare for an opposing defense. 

But the other big takeaway was the usage of Meyers and Watson. Meyers showed on that drive and later in the half with a key catch inside the Jets 5 and then a well-run route in the end zone that drew a flag that he’s up to everything the Jets kept throwing at him. Watson, the player the Patriots couldn’t fit on their roster when he came off suspension, not only bounced back from a pass that bounced off his facemask on the first drive with the big third-down catch, he made a low-to-the-ground catch to convert a fourth-and-6 later in the first to keep a drive alive. 


The swagger of high-haired Sam Darnold was squished on the second offensive play when the Patriots sent Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower on a blitz. A panicky Darnold blooped a pass directly to Devin McCourty that set up a Patriots field goal. Darnold, who was miked up on the play, said he blew the protection call when he returned to the sidelines. He said he wasn’t loud enough.


Sitting with Matt Cassel at Six Strings, the 14-year NFL quarterback said Darnold likely meant he should have slid protection so that Collins was picked up and Darnold would have been responsible for Hightower. The two Patriots chugging in made it look like a line breakdown but it was on the quarterback. 


The Patriots worked in a number of options for lead blockers in the first half. Newcomer tight end Eric Tomlinson was in at one point (he missed a wham block and got Michel dropped for a loss). Later, linebacker Elandon Roberts and backup offensive lineman James Ferentz were the lead blockers on goal-line plays, Ferentz making a key block to spring Michel for the score. 


When the Jets needed somebody — ANYBODY — to make a play to at least extend a drive for Darnold, Demaryius Thomas was in position to be the guy. And he dropped a very catchable pass from Darnold down the right side. Thomas, who the Patriots dealt to New York after they acquired Antonio Brown, did chip in with a pair of first-half catches but the drop really hurt. Robbie Anderson, who was checked by Stephon Gilmore in the first half was a non-factor with two targets and no catches. 


A few assorted offensive observations — Michel didn’t have a great first half. He had two short-yardage touchdowns and broke an 11-yard run but wound up with 12 carries for 26 yards and had a “you can’t do that” drop on a well-designed screen that could have gone for a pile of yards. …

Just don’t lose Phillip Dorsett. It should be one of the top declarations for every defensive coordinator going against the Patriots. With Meyers emerging a little more, Dorsett is left to roam and he hurt the Jets with a 26-yard touchdown catch on a spectacular throw from Brady and also a brilliant sideline catch that showed the hands and low-to-the-ground body control that make him such a valuable third receiver. …

Want creativity and an example of how much Brady trusts Brandon Bolden? The Patriots lined the big running back out at the sideline in the first half and Brady found him for a 28-yard back-shoulder completion any wideout would have been happy to put in his catalog. 


The Patriots allowed just 65 total yards in the first half. Three of the Jets six first downs were picked up by penalties (two on second-year corner J.C. Jackson). The Patriots had two more picks and are now at 18 picks for the season. One of the picks was hauled in by Duron Harmon who got more work stepping in for the injured Patrick Chung. It shows the depth of the Patriots secondary if Chung is down and Harmon is the next man up. 



Interesting to see Edelman back pulling in a punt in the third quarter. Also interesting was Jackson in the third quarter getting whistled for a third violation in coverage. … Lost in the carnage that was the Jets offense was the punt parade the Patriots got bogged down in after their first four possessions. It was similar to the first meeting between these teams when the Patriots scored touchdowns on their first three possessions then went kind of quiet. Certainly, game situation removed a lot of the urgency from their performance, but after the Patriots went TD, FG, TD, TD on their first four drives, it went punt, punt, punt, pick, punt, TD, punt. If a team can weather the first half against the New England defense and not get their faces schemed off by McDaniels, the Patriots might see a competitive game. 

Patriots: Most INT in first 7 games since '96>>>>

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