By Steve Bellew – New York Jets Writer
In a league that’s designed to give every team an equal opportunity to win, it’s hard to imagine a more predictable, one-sided win than the Patriots’ (3-0) 30-14 stroll against the over-matched Jets (0-3). The score line was not an accurate reflection of the gulf between the two teams and by the start of the fourth quarter, with Jarrett Stidham in at quarterback for the Patriots opposite the hapless Luke Falk, this had the feeling of a meaningless pre-season game. In week 3.
After the Jets punted on their first possession to the surprise of no-one, the Patriots marched down the field on their first three possessions. Sony Michel ran in for a touchdown and there were catches in the end zone for Phillip Dorsett and Julian Edelman. The game was over. Brady, who went 28-42 for 306 yards and two TDs, now stands alone in second on the all-time list for most TD passes – 2 ahead of Drew Brees, 15 behind Peyton Manning – and shows little sign of slowing down. He had all day behind his patched-up defensive line as the Jets could get no pass rush going whatsoever. After investing so heavily in their defensive line over the years, the Jets look mightily ineffective on this side of the ball, which is as worrying as it is disappointing.
Talking of worrying and disappointing, the Jets’ entire offensive effort consisted of 105 total yards in the whole game. “Offensively, we were atrocious,” said Jets head coach Adam Gase, cutting a frustrated figure in his post-game interview. “As bad as it gets.” On that point, he’s entirely correct. The Jets didn’t convert a single third down. They now have one TD in 12 quarters of football. Where Gase is not correct is in his assertion that the game plan was good enough. “We would have been alright if we would have executed some stuff,” is a classic Adam Gase quote that again suggests responsibility lies solely with the players. Well, punting on 4th and 2 with just over two minutes left in a game when you are down by two scores isn’t down to the players. Neither is running screens and check downs behind the line of scrimmage repeatedly on third and long. This was unfortunately the surrender that Jets fans feared and Gase has to take some accountability. And similarly unfortunately for those fans, this has all the hallmarks of Gase’s tenure in Miami.
After they ran up 20 quick points before half time, that the Patriots didn’t go on to deliver a complete blow-out was probably one of the few surprises from this game. Their cause wasn’t helped with Edelman going off at half-time and with Antonio Brown’s short tenure as a Patriot over, they will be hoping the Super Bowl LIII MVP is back on the field quickly. Josh Gordon was impressive with six catches for 83 yards as the Jets corners once again struggled in coverage. With Trumaine Johnson once again hardly seeing any playing time, Nate Hariston who the Jets acquired for a 6th round pick in a trade during the off-season now appears to be the Jets No1 corner. Hariston has been OK so far – but when that’s your best corner, you know there are problems. There are so many holes on this Jets roster but corner is alarmingly thin and when you have no pass rush as well, that’s a recipe for disaster.
The Patriots scored a fourth TD through Rex Burkhead but did seem to take their foot off the gas late in the game, which allowed the Jets to add some respectability to the scoreboard. A muffed Lachlan Edwards punt was smothered in the end zone by Arthur Maulet and then shortly afterwards, Jamal Adams picked off Stidham and returned it for his first TD as a Jet. But it was scant consolation for the Jets who start a season 0-3 for the first time since 2003.
So a routine win for the Patriots, who face what looks like a test on paper at the Bills (3-0) on Sunday. There was a lot of talk pre-season about who was best placed to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East this season. That question has already been answered, but we’ll see just how much of a challenge the Bills are capable of on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the good news for the Jets is that up next is their bye week and it couldn’t have come sooner for them. Gase and his staff will be hoping that the break gives time for his legion of injured starters including Sam Darnold, CJ Mosley and Quinnen Williams to return to fitness and provide the help and talent that this team is crying out for. For this coaching staff, the return of these stars provides a boost but also the end of the excuses for these unimaginative and insipid displays. And after the bye, life doesn’t get any easier for the Jets as they face the Eagles, the Cowboys and the Patriots again.
A game plan for the 1990s gives you no hope in the NFL in 2019 and unless Gase realises that, this season risks spinning out of control before mid-October.