EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 21, 2013

Hector Longo's Two-Minute Drill


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BIG SHOWS

1. Chandler Jones -- If Calvin Johnson is the “Megatron” of receivers, this guy is the “Sideswipe” of all defensive lineman. (Non Transformers fans look it up, he is a brash warrior, who transforms into a red Lamborghini.) Jones is the only Lamborghini level defender this team has and he showed it yesterday in an eight-tackle, two-sack, one forced fumble afternoon. If Jones brings it at “Sideswipe” levels every down, this defense just might be OK.

2. Devin McCourty -- The one guy in the secondary who didn’t collapse without Aqib Talib in the lineup. Made a huge swat on a potential Jeff Cumberland TD catch. Nice job on the deep balls, which were totally eliminated by his work in center field. Finished with five solo tackles and a pass breakup.

3. Stevan Ridley -- Got 11 carries for 50 yards. Why he was ignored in the overtime possession is a question Monday for Josh McDaniels.

4. Chris Jones (defense) -- The rookie was immense in a breakout game. Five solo tackles, five assists and a pair of sacks in the fill-in role for Tommy Kelly. He’s all we should be talking about today. Wait a minute, he is (see No Shows). D’oh!

NO SHOWS

1. Chris Jones (special teams) -- Yes, your 15-yarder on the missed field goal for “pushing” was the decisive blow in the game, a game the Patriots shouldn’t have lost.

2. Jamie Collins -- Is he the Zach Sudfeld of this defense? All we heard about was this athletic freak of nature and his ability to make big plays in the preseason. At this point, the Patriots will take “any” plays from the second-round draft pick. Two solo tackles in his first career start.

3. Kyle Arrington -- Too often, you looked up and he was getting beat against the likes of David Nelson and Jeremy Kerley. He’s the poster child for a sad day in the secondary.

4. Dont’a Hightower -- Shame on Matt Patricia for trying to make this guy do things he can’t physically do -- running down the field one on one with tight ends and backs. Hightower did nothing to improve his stock.

GRADING THE GROUPS

OFFENSE

Line (C) ... This group was headed for an absolute A+ after about 25 minutes. And then, the roof caved in. The Jets four-man rush began, one that had little or no impact at all in the first half, began pounding Tom Brady. Instead of Logan Mankins screaming at his buddies on the sideline late in the game, he should have been yelling at Josh McDaniels for abandoning the running game.

Wide Receivers (C-) ... Struggled all day to get open as a group. Julian Edelman led the group with 5 catches for 44 yards, hardly Pro Bowl numbers. But when Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Austin Collie combine to catch 6 of 17 balls tossed their way, those look like Welker numbers.

Tight Ends (B+) ... If “The Gronk” (called that only by NBC’s Dan Dierdorf) makes that amazing one-handed catch down the stretch, it’s over. But he didn’t. He returned with 8 catches, on 17 throws his way, for 114 yards with no TDs. Solid, but unspectacular, which is a monumental step up to what this team has had at the position.

Running Backs (A) ... Love the work by Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley, who picked up 4.5 yards per try. Did they lose their helmets in overtime? For some reason, they were ignored.

Quarterback (C-) ... When the passing game isn’t there and the run is, shouldn’t the QB say something to the coaches. Instead, Tom Brady (22 of 46 for 228 yards with no TDs and a pick-six) just kept forcing things into spots that didn’t exist. A dreadful effort, good for a pathetic 53.5 rating and even worse, 5.0 yards per attempt.

DEFENSE

Line (A) ... All five guys who played in the four spots were active, energetic and stout. They attacked Geno Smith and caused a decent share of havoc. This group, as a whole, won’t have a better day than this. What’s troubling is that it wasn’t enough on a day where the Jets played just OK.

Linebackers (C-) ... The stat sheet says it was a great day for Brandon Spikes. I just can’t buy in when the noted run-stuffer played the whole game on a day the Jets ripped apart the inner sanctum of this defense with 177 yards on the ground. Dont’a Hightower had his chance to step up and shine. I believe I will yield to the oft-confused Dan Dierdorf when he said Hightower looked, “lost in space.” At least he was in the space. Rookie linebacker Jamie Collins checked in as AWOL.

Secondary (D+) ... As good as they were the last couple weeks, shutting down Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston last week, they were equally bad today. They made Geno Smith look good, too good. They sent frustrated fantasy football owners scurrying to the waiver wire to wonder why they hadn’t picked up David Nelson and Jeremy Kerley.

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

Stats are for losers. And in this case, two stats helped ensure a Patriots loss in this one. First, there was time of possession, where the Jets held the football for 46:13, compared to the Pats 23:40.

Second, and this one helped to assure the whopping time of possession advantage, the Pats offense was only 1 of 12 (8%) in third-down conversions.

EXPLAINING THE RULE

All of New England was incensed when the Jets got a second chance in overtime after Nick Folk missed from 56 yards.

The penalty on Chris Jones for pushing his own lineman through the pile was correctly called.

But leave it to Bill Belichick and his staff for attempting to circumvent and defeat the new rule. I’ll say it right now, if this game was played in Foxboro, the officials might have picked up the flag. Why?

The Patriots spotted the glitch in the rule, which was on the preseason NFL video to its players, explaining all the rule changes. The video spoke of no pushing from the second level on field goals and PAT kicks.

When the officials came to the sideline to explain, Belichick never denied what Jones did. But instaneously, he and an assistant on the sideline noted: “He wasn’t at the second level.”

Indeed, he wasn’t. He was in the first line. Jones just waited as Will Svitek fired out then circled behind him and pushed. Was it illegal?

Probably. But Belichick’s micro-management of the situation definitely provided cause for doubt. Give the guy credit. He covers every base possible.

Even in the press conference, Belichick let the NFL folks know he’s not happy and he found a loophole.

“We weren’t on the second level when we pushed,” he said. “You can’t push from the second level, I didn’t think we did that.”

And watch for this rule to be worked on to eliminate the gray area created by the Pats in coming weeks.

JOSH FAILS OT TEST

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels acted like a petulant child in overtime, looking to score immediately instead of working on an already tired Jets defense with the run.

No runs and four straight passes in overtime -- three incompletions -- led to a punt and the Jets possession.

This is not 2007 Josh. Your receivers are some of the worst, if not the worst, in the game. Run the darn football.

You were averaging 4.5 yards a carry, Josh. Thinking about that Josh. Add in the sacks and you averaged 4.1 yards a pass play. And your guys were fresh. Pound them.

No excuses. This one is on Josh.

BILL WAS RIGHT

“We didn’t feel like we did anything well enough,” said Bill Belichick afterward. “Too many mistakes, we’re better than that. We weren’t today.”

LOOKING AHEAD, FINAL THOUGHTS

I would not expect a lot of Brandon Spikes and Dont’a Hightower on the field at the same time in coming weeks. Neither can play pass, and both are primarily one-dimensional run-stuffers. That means Dane Fletcher or someone like that had better be ready to step up. ...

Really Rex? Zach Sudefld as a captain? How 1990s of you. I like you, coach. But that’s so weak. ...

A Dolphins team, once the surprise of the AFC at 3-0, heads into Foxboro at 3-3 next week, victimized by the Buffalo Bills yesterday. First place in the division is on the line. The Patriots have been installed as an early 7-point favorite.