by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
September 21, 2009
It figures that the first time I have to bite it and give the PD Game Ball to a Pats opponent, it ends up being Jets coach Rex Ryan.
Say what you will about his off-field antics (I ended up thinking he was kind of funny by the end of the week, much less so now), he delivered where it counts yesterday. After a tentative, bumbling start, his Jets wrested complete control of their tormenters with a third quarter spurt that gave Ryan’s swarming defense all it would need to put down Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Jets had assured themselves of at least a split with New England in their season series, and perhaps reassured themselves of a lot more.
That third quarter said something to me about where the Patriots are two weeks in. Remember the August storyline that had this as one of Belichick’s most demanding training camps? Explain to me then how a team that has undergone such rigorous training still can’t get a play off in the time that is allotted to them. How is it that the veteran receiver still does not know where the quarterback is throwing the ball? How is it that opposing receivers are still so comfortably finding the soft spots in the Pats’ secondary?
The Jets won the third quarter 10-0, and outgained New England 132 to 18, thanks to a mélange of errors both unforced and forced, and for all intents and purposes the game was lost then and there.
For most of the first eight quarters, the Pats offense has been disorganized and chaotic, painfully searching for some kind of momentum and – cliché alert – identity. I mean, what’s their identity now? Delay of game? No, here’s their identity; in eight quarters, the Patriots have thrown the ball 101 times and run it 43 times. And they’re getting killed for it.
On defense, the temptation may be to think of yesterday effort as respectable; in the end they surrendered only 250 net yards and just 16 points. But they really got run over in that third quarter; Jerricho Cotchery burned them on two straight drives before the Jets took off on an eight minute march to a Jay Feely field goal and a margin-of-victory touchdown lead. In all cases, the Jets seemed to easily exploit wide open spaces in the New England defense.
The Patriots played right into Ryan’s hands yesterday and the point of this post was supposed to be that it ain’t bragging if you can back it up. Even with all the bluster he – unlike his opposite – had a plan that would work. So here you go, Rex. Stick this in your trophy case.
E-mail Scott Benson at firstname.lastname@example.org