NY Jets: What were the Patriots thinking?
The NY Jets won a thriller against the New England Patriots, but what were they thinking in overtime?
When was the last time any team was afraid of the Jets’ offensive ability? Not even in the great days of the “Ground ‘N Pound” offense were opponents really in fear of the Jets’ ability to score a touchdown at will. Based on the reports coming out regarding the Patriots’ decision to kick to start overtime against the Jets, Bill Belichick still did not fear the offense of the Jets.
In fact, he was so confident in their inability that he was willing to risk not having the ball to start the overtime just so his Hall of Fame quarterback and his All-Pro Tight End could resort to winning the game by merely a fieldgoal.
Of course, with every story/headline to come out of Patriots camp, there are three times as many subplots. Was Belichick simply taking the heat off Matthew Slater by saying that he instructed his player (a special teams captain) to defer possession? Did Slater just make a mistake, thinking in his mind that this was the start of the game, where most teams elect to defer possession? The world may never know the true story, but either way the Jets taught everyone a valuable lesson: don’t sleep on this offensive unit.
The Jets’ workhorse, Chris Ivory, was once again not 100% during this game. In years’ past, not having your top runner in top condition would be cause for concern and render the Jets’ offense useless. Having guys like Bilal Powell and Stevan Ridley at full strength, along with a deep receiving corps, leaves Ryan Fitzpatrick with multiple weapons at his disposal. On the other side, at times it seemed like it was the Tom and Gronk show, with the quarterback easily slinging passes to his favorite target Rob Gronkowski.
Based on how things were going between the two toward the end of the game, I was incredibly nervous that the Patriots would expose the Jets’ defense in the overtime period. Frankly, I witnessed way too many single coverage situations where a small cornerback was left to cover the 6’6″ 265 pound security blanket. That made the decision (at least that’s what it was according to Belichick himself) even more perplexing.
Everyone – even the insiders from ESPN – were convinced this was a mistake and were quick to come to the defense of the Patriots on the matter:
The exchange that could help send the Jets to the playoffs… pic.twitter.com/5ErbnKUyfE
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 27, 2015
Mistake, odd strategy, or blatant error by the refs, I think we all learned one thing: do not give the ball to this Jets’ offense with the game on the line. Every game since this team was 5-5 has essentially been a playoff game. There have been quite a few “game on the line” situations within these games, and the Jets have responded in every situation, regardless of the controversy surrounding how they got to those points.
During their five game winning streak, the Jets have thrown for an average of 305 yards per game. In fact, their pass attack ranks 10th in the league, while their rushing attack ranks 11th. When was the last time the Jets could boast a top-10 passing attack? Your guess is as good as mine.
We have all heard that the NFL is now a passing league. The Jets finally came to their senses as an organization and adopted this philosophy, without completely losing their identity as a team that is hard-nosed in the trenches:
1 INT, 2 sacks, 13 points allowed, 1-of-10 allowed on 3rd down. What a day for the D. https://t.co/Izljuq3H6q
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 28, 2015
The Jets may finally be a complete football team. With a cerebral quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick, an All-Pro quality WR tandem, young playmakers on the defense (see Calvin Pryor and Lorenzo Mauldin), veteran leadership (Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, David Harris, Nick Mangold, Fitzpatrick, Marshall, the list goes on…), this team has the recipe for success for the next few years.
More jets: Ryan Fitzpatrick and his amazing season
I’ll be the first to admit that I have had my doubts throughout the season (especially at 5-5), but something about this team feels right. They are coming together at the right time. Now they have one more task to complete before testing their playoff resolve: another date with Rex Ryan. One word of advice to Rex: take the ball when you can.