Patriots

Key takeaways from Patriots' Week 2 win over Jets, Zach Wilson

Patriots

The New England Patriots' dominance over the New York Jets continued in Week 2 at MetLife Stadium.

The Patriots forced four turnovers en route to a 25-6 victory, which extends their win streak over the Jets to 11 games (dating back to 2016).

Veteran kicker Nick Folk was again one of the Patriots' best players. He extended his consecutive field goals made streak to a team record 33. He was 4-for-4 on field goals Sunday and hasn't missed on seven tries through two games this season.

Next up for the Patriots is a Week 3 matchup versus the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium.

Here are some immediate takeaways from what we saw in Week 2.

1. Zach Wilson has a lot of work to do

Zach Wilson became the latest rookie quarterback to struggle against a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots defense Sunday. 

Struggle is actually too kind of a description for his performance.

Wilson was abysmal. For a large portion of the game he had more interceptions than completions. He ended up completing 19 of his 33 pass attempts for 210 yards with zero touchdowns and four interceptions.

The Patriots scored 17 of their 25 points off of Wilson's four turnovers. His carelessness with the ball was the difference in the game. Most of these interceptions were just bad throws, too, which is concerning for the Jets. 

The Patriots' rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, avoided critical mistakes for the second straight week. He was accurate, completing 22 of 30 attempts for 186 yards. Jones didn't find the end zone, but he managed the game well to pick up his first career victory.

 

It's way too early to reach a verdict on whether Jones or Wilson will have a better NFL career. But there's no question that Jones is better prepared to help his team win games as a rookie right now.

2. Patriots offense unimpressive again

New England's offense racked up just 260 total yards. Jones' accuracy again was solid, but he didn't even hit the 200-yard mark. The play calling, especially on passes, was often too conservative. 

The Patriots rushing attack was good -- 101 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries (4.1 per attempt) -- but it did have some disappointing moments, including Damien Harris failing to score on three attempts inside the 10-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

If Harris didn't embarrass the Jets defense on a 26-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, the Patriots offense might've finished with one touchdown for the second consecutive week.

After a stellar showing on third down in Week 1, the Patriots went a lackluster 3-for-12 in those scenarios against the Jets.

The Patriots got the win, which is obviously most important, but posting less than 300 yards of offense highlights the fact that this group has plenty of room for improvement. 

3. James White remains ultra-important

White showed off his versatility in Sunday's win, tallying 65 total yards and a score. He was the Patriots' leading receiver with six receptions on six targets for 45 yards. He also ran for 20 yards and a touchdown on five carries.

Four of his touches went for first downs or a score, highlighting his immense value in third down situations.

The veteran running back is the perfect security blanket for a rookie quarterback like Jones. You won't find many players in the league who are more reliable in their role than White. 

"James is one of our best players," Belichick said after the game.

4. Right tackle still a concern

Jones got hit nine times and was sacked twice against the Dolphins in Week 1. He took way too much punishment. The first half against the Jets was more of the same, as New York sacked Jones three times and pressured him on a few other plays. 

Right tackle is a problem area. Trent Brown suffered a calf injury early in the season opener and didn't play in Week 2. Yasir Durant started in his place, but he struggled and was benched in favor of Justin Herron. The opposite happened last week, when Herron was benched and replaced by Durant. Herron suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter but did return to the game.

What's the solution at right tackle if Brown misses another game? Herron could remain there if his play is steady. Another option is 2019 third-round pick Yodny Cajuste. Starting right guard Michael Onwenu moving to right tackle could work, too. In that scenario, Ted Karras could play right guard.

 

Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn also had some bad plays versus the Jets, so the pass protection concerns are not solely at right tackle. 

The Patriots' offensive line can play a lot better. The good news is the penalties that plagued this group in Week 1 were not a huge factor Sunday.

5. Patriots defense stepped up

Bill Belichick's defense didn't play awful in Week 1, but that didn't stop the unit from receiving a fair share of criticism, including from Patriots legend Rodney Harrison. Sunday's game was a legitimately good performance from the Pats defense.

Here's a snapshot of the Patriots defense's effort against the Jets:

  • Six points allowed (now 23 through two games)
  • Four interceptions
  • Four sacks
  • Jets tallied just 184 passing yards
  • Jets went 0-for-2 in the red zone

One area that needs improvement is run defense. The Patriots allowed the Jets to run for 152 yards on 31 carries (4.9 per attempt). New England made several roster additions in free agency to improve its front seven and run defense after a poor showing in 2020. So far through two games, defending the run has not been a strength of this team.