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

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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NFL opt outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL opt outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL training camps officially began Tuesday, but there were some notable absences.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season last Friday, citing health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, multiple players have followed suit, continuing a trend across all major North American professional sports of players declining to participate in their seasons as COVID-19 persists in the United States.

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The Patriots especially have felt the impact of this trend: Six New England players -- including star linebacker Dont'a Hightower -- already have opted out, the most of any NFL team.

Below is a running list of the players who have opted out of the 2020 NFL season, according to reports or team/player confirmations. The list is sorted alphabetically after the Patriots, with the date of the players' opt-outs in parentheses.

New England Patriots

RB Brandon Bolden (July 28)
OT Marcus Cannon (July 28)
S Patrick Chung (July 28)
LB Dont'a Hightower (July 28)
WR Marqise Lee (August 1)
OG Najee Toran (July 27)
FB Danny Vitale (July 27)
TE Matt LaCosse (August 2)

Baltimore Ravens

OT Andre Smith (July 28)
WR/KR De'Anthony Thomas (July 27)

Buffalo Bills

CB E.J. Gaines (August 2)
DT Star Lotulelei (July 28)

Carolina Panthers

LB Jordan Mack (July 28)
LB Christian Miller (August 3)

Chicago Bears

DT Eddie Goldman (July 28)

Cincinnati Bengals

OT Isaiah Prince (July 31)
DT Josh Tupou (July 31)

Cleveland Browns

OL Drake Dorbeck (July 29)
OL Drew Forbes (July 29)

Dallas Cowboys

CB Maurice Canady (July 27)
WR Stephen Guidry (July 28)
FB Jamize Olawale (Aug. 2)

Denver Broncos

OT JaWuan James (Aug. 3)
DT Kyle Peko (July 28)

Detroit Lions

DT John Atkins (July 29)
WR Geronimo Allison (Aug. 2)

Green Bay Packers

WR Devin Funchess (July 28)

Houston Texans

DT Eddie Vanderdoes (July 28)

Jacksonville Jaguars

EDGE Larentee McCray (August 1)
DL Al Woods (July 31)

Kansas City Chiefs

OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (July 24)
RB Damien Williams (July 29)

Los Angeles Rams

OT Chandler Brewer (July 31)

Minnesota Vikings

NT Michael Pierce (July 28)

New Orleans Saints

TE Jason Vander Laan (July 28)
TE Cole Wick (July 28)

New York Giants

WR Da'Mari Scott (August 2)
LT Nate Solder (July 29)

New York Jets

OL Leo Koloamatangi (July 28)
LB CJ Mosley (Aug. 1)

Philadelphia Eagles

WR Marquise Goodwin (July 28)

Seattle Seahawks

OG Chance Warmack (July 27)

Tennessee Titans

OL Anthony McKinney (July 28)

Washington Football Team

DT Caleb Brantley (July 27)

Free Agents

G Larry Warford (July 28)

Julian Edelman shows Tom Brady love on ex-Patriots QB's 43rd birthday

Julian Edelman shows Tom Brady love on ex-Patriots QB's 43rd birthday

Tom Brady and Julian Edelman are no longer teammates, but they're very much still friends.

Brady celebrated his 43rd birthday Monday as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an NFL first for the quarterback after 20 years with the New England Patriots.

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Edelman, who spent 11 seasons as Brady's teammate in New England, used his Instagram story to shout out his former QB with some heartfelt well wishes.

Edelman seemingly is eager to prove he's not just "a product of Brady" after the QB helped him amass a career-high 1,117 receiving yards last season.

The 34-year-old wide receiver also has been working out with new Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, so he's certainly not dwelling on the past.

Then again, he and Brady developed an incredibly close bond as Patriots teammates and won three Super Bowl titles together, and that bond hasn't broken despite Brady migrating to Tampa Bay.