Patriots vs. Jets All-22 Thoughts: Defense Edition

This was as bad of a defensive performance as I’ve seen since, well, the Chiefs game, but the Pats get a bit of a pass given the short week and injuries they were coming off of.

Still, most of the defense lacked the necessary “pop” to their game, and save a three-drive stretch where they forced punts in the second half, the Jets offense basically had their way with them.

Still, they made the very last play of the game and that was enough to get an ugly win. The defense is much better than this and we’ll certainly see them look a lot better against the Bears this weekend.

Here are the All-22 Defense thoughts…

Read More

3 GIFs That Defined Patriots Win Over Jets

In a tight divisional game like this was, the plays at the end of the game are usually the ones that define it most. My choices this week are no exception. There was the Pats first touchdown pass that caught the Jets asleep and there were a few sacks, notably by Chandler Jones, that I could’ve gone with, but these three plays were the ones that gave the Patriots the win.

This first play was the feel-good moment of the game for those who had been waiting for Danny Amendola to show up in the passing game. Just an incredibly acrobatic catch from Amendola as it appeared that his kickoff returns got him into the game flow early in this one. Hard not to feel great for Amendola as he came through in the clutch like this. If he can continue to develop into a threat, the Pats offense will have another difficult dimension for opponents to defend.

photo jets 2_zpsx31ifygu.gif

And as if the game-winning touchdown wasn’t enough, Amendola recovered this scary onsides kick on the very next play. It had to have been a frustrating start to the 2014 season for Amendola, but these two huge plays show why you just have to keep battling.

photo jets 1_zpsuvpwy5pk.gif

Finally, comes the game-saving blocked field goal attempt. Such poetic justice after how last year’s overtime game ended with Jones getting called for a silly penalty that handed the Jets the win. I think there was a pretty good chance this one was going to be good too. Again, this should help spark Chris Jones in what has already been a solid start to his second season after coming back from injury.

photo jets 3_zpslxj40zbq.gif

Previous Three GIFs:

@ Buffalo Bills

Cincinnati Bengals

Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders

@ Minnesota Vikings

@ Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots Gameplan: Week 7 vs. Jets

The Patriots get their Thursday night game out of the way this week, facing their divisional rival the New York Jets. When the Pats and Jets meet we cant throw the records out the window. Yes, the Jets are 1-5, but have had close battles in almost all of the contests and there’s little question Gang Green will be up to play their rivals.

Full disclosure - I love Rex Ryan and love that he coaches the Jets. He’s the perfect Yang to Bill Belichick’s Ying and his defensive gameplans are always fascinating to study, especially when he’s going against Tom Brady.

The Jets have the right talent in the right spots to exploit some of the Patriots’ weaknesses but the game might ultimately rest on the shoulders of Geno Smith. If he plays a mostly error-free game, it will go down to the very end.

Offensive Gameplan

With rain in the forecast, mistakes become magnified, so the biggest thing on offense is execution, especially being careful with the ball. The Pats practiced with wet balls this week to hammer this point home. With two teams that know each other well an untimely fumble could be the difference in the game.

The Jets feature an impressive defensive front and Sheldon Richardson Damon Harrison and Muhammad Wilkerson should test a Patriots offensive line that has been shaky at times throughout the season. With Stork and Connolly out, backup Josh Kline, who struggled last week against the Bills, should see plenty of aggressive attacks from the Jets interior.

Nate Solder will also have his work cut out for him against Wilkerson as he looks to get his season on track.

Perhaps most important though will be the communication on the offensive line. Rex Ryan loves to run all kinds of blitzes that will test even the most veteran offensive lines. They cannot afford to miss someone and allow a free hitter in on Brady, especially with slippery conditions.

If the passing game is affected by the weather it will put the magnifying glass on the Pats’ run game sans Stevan Ridley. Their ability to move the ball on the ground could be another one of the major factors in this game.

Defensive Gameplan

Between the wet conditions and Geno Smith’s penchant for turnovers, all signs are pointing to the Pats playing mostly zone defense tonight. This can be maddening to watch, but it’s a staple of Bill Belichick’s defensive philosophy. If he doesn’t think a quarterback can execute without multiple game-deciding mistakes, he’s happy to put seven guys into coverage, send limited blitzes and wait for the interceptions to come.

Sometimes the quarterbacks will put together an error-free game in this scenario and it can be frustrating to watch multiple underneath passes completed. But usually the Pats defense will stiffen in the red zone even if the turnovers don’t come. 

This method puts the pressure on the front four of the Patriots. They must get to Smith to help force him into mistakes. If the pass rush is non-existent, Smith will make plays and then things could get dicey.

5 Points of Emphasis

1. Trench Warfare: You don’t want to oversimplify any points of emphasis, but this game will be won in the trenches on both sides of the ball. For the Patriots, protecting Tom Brady and picking up Rex Ryan’s complicated blitz schemes is paramount. As we’ve said time and again, if Brady has time, he’ll move the offense. If the Pats give up early pressure and don’t find a rhythm on offense it could be a long night.

2. Born to Run: With Stevan Ridley out of the season, the Pats must find who can carry the rock on early downs. Brandon Bolden might be the easiest choice, but he lacks Ridley’s explosiveness. Or perhaps practice squadder Jonas Grey gets a chance. Regardless, Shane Vereen must step up and make plays. If he doesn’t, the Pats offense could be dangerously close to one-dimensional.

3. Who will Stop (us from passing in) the Rain?: The Pats passing game is really starting to take off in the last couple weeks, and it would be a shame if the rain retards that development. With the Jets devastated by injuries in the secondary, it’s where they are most susceptible. Even with driving rain, the Pats must try to attack their cornerbacks. 

4. One way to Skinner the Jets: Deontae Skinner is likely to see plenty of action tonight, and while he looked very much like a rookie last week against the Bills, this is a time to get a good look at Skinner in a significant role to get a feeling for his ceiling. If they could manage to get a lead, it would be beneficial to get Dont’a Hightower off the field to rest his injured knee. Even Jamie Collins is battling a thigh injury. Tonight is Skinner’s shot to prove the Pats don’t need to go looking for another linebacker outside the organization. He might not get another one.

5. Win: The Pats get an extended break after this one — a great chance to get a bit healthy after a string of injuries the last two weeks. If they can get to 5-2, including 2-1 in the division, they will be in great shape as they approach the halfway point of the season. Tom Brady hasn’t lost an AFC East game at home since 2006 and the streak should continue if the Pats play their usual clean game.

Patriots vs. Bills All 22 Thoughts: Offense Edition

We learned a lot about the New England Patriots offense against the Bills. Are they perfectly unstoppable yet? Nope. But they have a resiliency about them that was shown multiple times in this game. 

The protection continues to improve, as does Rob Gronkowski. Along with Edelman and Brandon LaFell the Pats’ attack is looking more and more diverse with each game and that’s a great thing.

While the questions swirl around how they’ll replace Stevan Ridley, there are plenty of other things to feel good about with this offense.

Here’s what stood out on the All 22 film re-watch, offense edition.

Read More

Patriots vs. Bills All 22 Thoughts: Defense Edition

Simply put, this was a game won by the Patriots defensive line in the trenches. Buffalo clearly wanted to attack the Pats’ run defense but they couldn’t get by Vince Wilfork, Casey Walker, Chris Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones. 

Just a very solid defensive showing up front from the Pats where everyone did their job and there weren’t many missed tackles or blown assignments. 

Here are things that stood out on the All-22 film review, defense edition.

Read More

3 GIFs That Defined Patriots Win Over Bills

There were a lot of great plays to pick from this week, a nice problem I’m not used to having this season, so I just went ahead and picked five because I make the rules here on the Prop.

Players stepped up despite major injuries and made plays at the critical moments to get the Pats the victory. Despite the final score this was a closely-fought football game with the game on the line well into the fourth quarter. The Pats showed a ton of grit and their trademark cold-bloodedness that we’ve come to expect.

Here are the five plays that stood out the most to me…

photo Buf1_zpsd1d2e548.gif

After going back-and-forth for much of the first half, each scoring touchdowns, this play really got the Pats kick started for the rest of the game. Chandler Jones continued his great season and showed remarkable athleticism to corral the ball. The Pats would get six points just before the half and set them up for the opening drive of the third quarter.

photo Buf2_zps7903fc48.gif

What a play this long touchdown pass was to Brian Tyms for a bunch of reasons. First, it came on the opening drive of the third quarter, a spot the Pats often struggle on the road, and for all the talk that Tom Brady had no more deep accuracy, this one play showed there just might be some hope. This play should serve as a message to any teams who want to load the box and short zones.

photo Buf3_zps7027ab87.gif

The Bills had just put together a touchdown-scoring drive and closed to within six points but the Pats came right back out firing with this play immediately moving them across midfield. Not only is this just one of many examples that I could’ve chosen to illustrate that Gronk is back, but it also shows the kind of steely resolve the Pats had as the Bills continued to stick around.

photo Buf4_zps24b1874a.gif

With a nine-point lead this was the play that effectively put the game away, and the fact that it came on third-and-12 and Brady found Brandon LaFell is just the icing on the cake. This game also proves that the Patriots are a lot more than just the Edelman and Gronk show. The offense didn’t show this kind of development last year until much later. LaFell is developing into the big receiving threat the Pats have lacked for what seems like an eternity.

photo Buf5_zps031e1f23.gif

Still the Bills kept fighting but this was the final dagger, converting a third-and-long and not giving them the ball back with plenty of time and just an eight-point lead. Brady stands strong in a tight pocket and delivers a strike to Gronk.

If the Pats can maintain this kind of execution, they will be very hard to stop. 

Previous Three GIFs:

Cincinnati Bengals

Kansas City Chiefs

Oakland Raiders

@ Minnesota Vikings

@ Miami Dolphins

Pats Posits: Gritty but Costly Victory

After letting this win over the Bills marinate for the last 20 hours or so I went back to take a look at the condensed game film as I usually do on Mondays. A lot to be excited about, unfortunately it’s hard to be too happy when it looks like Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley are likely done for the season.

There’s no way to find a silver lining in either of these injuries. The Pats never replaced LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Spikes or Dane Fletcher this offseason and now those decisions are going to seriously test the Pats’ depth once again.

For Ridley, the obvious personnel adjustment is using Brandon Bolden as the early-down back, but he certainly doesn’t have the ability to break tackles or power through in short yardage situations. He’ll get what is there and likely not a yard more. Maybe Jonas Grey from the practice squad is the answer, or free agent Benjarvus Green-Ellis (I’d be all for giving him a look). But if we’re riding with Bolden as the guy, I’m a little worried.

Read More

New England Patriots Gameplan: Week 6 at Buffalo Bills

The New England Patriots got back on track last week with an impressive win over the previously undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. But there’s little time to enjoy that victory, as the Buffalo Bills welcome the Pats for their second divisional game this season.

Despite New England’s 22-2 record against the Bills since 2001, the early season games, especially those in Buffalo are always close. With first place in the AFC East on the line, the Patriots will need to build on the success they had against the Bengals.

The 3-2 Bills will be looking to make a statement and the Patriots know what they’re walking into —  a hungry team that wants to prove they’re a true contender.

Here’s the gameplan.

Read More

Patriots vs. Bengals All 22 Thoughts: Offense Edition

On to the offensive side of the ball where I found a lot to be encouraged about. Most specifically the team-wide commitment to blocking downfield. The linemen and receivers were blocking with gusto and that finally got the explosive plays in the ground game going.

Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen showed they were rounding into form finally as the elite weapons we think they should be.

Here are my All 22 observations on the offensive side of the ball.

Read More