EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 13, 2013

Hector Longo's Two-Minute Drill

Hector Longo
The Eagle-Tribune

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GRADING THE GROUPS

OFFENSE

Line (B-) ... Jets stacked the box and made things tough, but Pats didn’t move the pile forward much at all. Allowed Tom Brady to get hit early. This is a bad Jets defense, and the Pats backs rushed for 52 yards on 21 carries, hardly a quality night’s work.

Wide Receivers (C) ... Everything Tom Brady has worked for, all the passing efficiency marks, all the accuracy, say bye-bye. The most accurate passer on the planet, facing a middle-of-the-pack (at best) Jets defense hit 19 of 39 passes for 185 yards. The guy who averages 7.5 yards per attempt for his career was at 4.7 last night because of the minor league pass catchers this team has assembled.

Tight Ends (F) ... Nothing whatsoever from this group.

Running Backs (D) ... Stevan Ridley’s burst is lost in his fear of losing the football. All he had to do once is crease the Jets, and he was gone. Instead, he made sure of ball security. LeGarrette Blount is, well, a backup at best.

Quarterback (C) ... Try a shoe-horn to squeeze those passes in. For the first time in his pro career, it stinks to be Tom Brady.

DEFENSE

Line (C) ... Much more activity from the edge in Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, but much of the noise came with Geno Smith’s constant siestas in the pocket, too. Play Tommy Kelly and Vince Wilfork, and can we please stop with the Joe Vellano experiment?

Linebackers (C) ... Somebody, please make a play. Not a play after the first down. Not a play if you’re unblocked and they run right at you. A play. Blow up a blocker, take someone’s head off and make a statement – one like: We have two first-rounders and a second at linebacker, so we shouldn’t be non-factors.

Defensive Backs (C) ... Teetered on the brink of destruction all night but came up with four of the flukiest turnovers you’ll ever see to make the difference.

Cwoaching (B) ... Subtle changes in the second half, getting after Geno Smith a little bit with the blitz, made the difference in this one. Well, that and the fact that Smith continually threw the football to the wrong spots at the wrong times.

What happened to it?

Great job by the Pats staff on the opening drive, seeing the tight coverage on the line and going with the hard play-action pass to get a wide-open Aaron Dobson his first career TD.

But what happened after that? Where did that play-action go? The Jets stacked the line all night and the Pats stopped the heavy play-action.

This could have all been avoided if the Pats stuck to that game-plan, instead of panicking.

No masterpiece

You have to be honest. This one would never be branded an “instant classic.” It truly evoked memories of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, when it felt like New England football fans were being punished, having to watch these teams go at it.

You got the feeling we were in for a long night when in the first 65 seconds, we got three quick head-scratchers:

Bill Belichick sending out his freight train, LeGarrette Blount on kick return.

The officials flagging Antonio Cromartie for a phantom pass interference.

And the officials then throwing a flag for 12 Jets on the field, when only 11 were out there.

We should have known.

WHY BELICHICK IS BETTER

Look, the Pats tried Tim Tebow. He failed. They allowed him to do what he does, and he failed. Bill Belichick’s experiment was well-meant.

And here you have offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and the New York Jets, who draft Geno Smith out of West Virginia.

Will Smith ever make it as an NFL QB? Who knows. Will he make it in the league as a drop-back passer? I have seen enough to know that answer already. No! So why do the Jets force the kid to sit in the pocket and frown on him running and scrambling? I can’t believe I’m about to ask this, but where was the read-option?

He’s got great legs, and he’s standing there in the pocket, instead of trying to outrun Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. If the kid is going to make it, it will be as a multi-purpose threat. He’s not Tom Brady.

He might be Colin Kaepernick.

Mornhinweg is just too close-minded to realize that.

REX WAXES NOSTALGIC

Jets coach Rex Ryan brought back the defense his dad made famous, stacking the line with 8 and 9 bodies. Buddy Ryan’s “46” defense steamrolled the 1985 Pats in the Super Bowl, and New York enjoyed some success with it last night.

The reason?

New England just has nobody to run the seam route at tight end. Rob Gronkowski remains sidelined. And Mike Hoomanawanui is simply a turtle. The Pats can expect similar treatment when the good teams come calling.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

“It’s just too early to brand anybody.”

-- Bill Belichick

THE BOTTOM LINE: PATS HEADED TO 2-4, 3-3 AT BEST

The Patriots, at 2-0, lead the AFC East and now get a nice 10-day rest to recuperate and heal and as they say, correct the mistakes.

Sorry, but the truth is this team has some serious issues. Personnel-wise, do you see it getting any better?

Look at receiver. Danny Amendola is already banged up. It’s a matter of time for Julian Edelman. And rookies always struggle to stay in the lineup. Where is this football team going to go?

Rob Gronkowski will be back. Will his body be recovered from the offseason surgeries? He’s lost muscle mass. That’s for sure. He’s a question mark.

And while the Pats do have four games left in the AFC East, they’re staring down the barrel of some quality competition.

Sorry, but at 2-0, they are a lot closer to 2-4 than they are 4-2. Who are they going to beat?

They host Tampa with a seasoned QB in Josh Freeman with blue-chip weapons in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, plus a 1,000-yard back in Doug Martin.

It’s road dates at Atlanta and Cincinnati. Each will be at least a one-touchdown favorite against the Pats. And then Sean Payton and Drew Brees come to town with the Saints.

Buckle up, folks. Rocky road lies ahead.