New England Patriots weren’t good, Zach Wilson was just bad

Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots picked up their first win of the season this afternoon against the New York Jets, pushing their season record to 1-1. It was a good day for the Pats in general, as they were able to wash the bad taste out of their mouth from last week’s heart crushing loss at the hands of the Miami Dolphins.

Despite the uncontested nature of the game, with the final score settling in at 25-6, the game left a lot to be desired for the Patriots. They had some unexpected struggles against a pretty bad Jets team, and they were lucky they didn’t end up hurting them like they did last week.

In all honesty, Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson was probably the best player for New England in this one. He threw four interceptions on the day, which the Pats turned into 16 points. They really didn’t have to do anything; Wilson just kept giving them the ball back.

The turnover battle was really the one area the Patriots dominated in this one. After losing it last weekend against the Dolphins 2-1, they won it 4-0 today purely off Wilson’s struggles. Wilson’s first two pass attempts were completed to players wearing blue rather than white, foreshadowing a long day at the office for the 2021 second overall pick.

Other than that, there wasn’t much the Patriots did better than the Jets. They had four sacks compared to their three, but two of those were picked up by Josh Uche on the Jets last drive. Had Wilson not forgot what team he was on for half of the game, this could have gone in a much different direction.

That’s why it’s important to take this Patriots win with a grain of salt. Sure, the game wasn’t even close, but it wasn’t really a product of their own doing. Wilson led a charge by the Jets to giftwrap this game for New England. Despite the win, it’s clear the Pats have a lot of work to do before their Week 3 contest against the New Orleans Saints.

The New England Patriots were not really impressive in this one

We all know this Jets team is not really a talented squad. They are starting from scratch again, this time trying to build a team around Wilson. They have tons of inexperienced players lining up on both sides of the ball, and were missing key pieces of their offensive line, wide receiver corps, and secondary.

Despite that, the New England Patriots struggled to assert themselves for much of this game. The Jets did much better in some aspects of the game the Patriots were expected to dominate, and that’s definitely a cause for concern despite the win.

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It started on the ground. Just last week, the Jets only managed 45 total rushing yards against the Carolina Panthers. They managed to surpass that total just a couple minutes into the second quarter against the Pats. In the end, they finished with 152 total rushing yards on 31 carries, good for a healthy 4.9 yards per carry.

That’s way too much yardage per run for the Patriots front seven to be giving up, especially against the Jets. After revamping their front seven this offseason with the intent of fortifying their run defense, it was disheartening to see them struggle so much to slow down the Jets ground game.

Thankfully the secondary was able to make Wilson look like third stringer all afternoon, so the struggles to defend the run weren’t too consequential. But it’s clear if they let better opponents run the football on them like this, they are going to lose games.

Things weren’t much better on offense. After looking like they were on the upswing against Miami last week, they were surprisingly mellow for most of the afternoon against New York.

Mac Jones second game basically saw him take the role of a game manager, which was a bit frustrating, especially after how good he looked last weekend. His final line was efficient (22/30, 186 YDS, no TD’s or INT’s), but left a lot to be desired. Admittedly the game script saw the Patriots lead for most of the afternoon, but it would have been nice to see him cook a weak Jets secondary.

There were two main reasons for Jones lack of action. The first was playcalling. Josh McDaniels conservative playcalling has been a gripe for a section of Patriots fans for some time now, and today was a perfect example of why.

Too often McDaniels is dialing up simple five yard checkdown routes for Jones rather than letting him air it out. There were multiple third and long situations where Jones was locked into a checkdown pass from the moment he snapped it, which won’t win you games against higher quality opposition.

What they should be doing is calling more plays like this one. The New England Patriots run game was established for the most part, and they were running play action plays all afternoon. But they kept settling for the safe play rather than taking a shot against a weak Jets secondary.

New England’s front office spent a large sum of money to land Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, but they have been used sparingly so far in the offense. Jones showed the ability to pick apart a much better Miami defense last weekend, but McDaniels decided to put the training wheels back on in this one for some reason.

The second issue was the offensive line. Trent Brown’s absence was felt again, as Yasir Durant struggled after getting the start, and was pulled in favor of Justin Herron, who got injured moments later, forcing Durant back into action. Jones was sacked three times on the afternoon, and had to release the ball earlier than he wanted to for most of the game.

While the right tackle remains a sore spot for the New England Patriots, that wasn’t the only issue on the line. The line failed to open up holes for the ground game for the most part, and if you take out Damien Harris’ 26 yard touchdown run where be broke an astonishing seven tackles, the rushing totals (24 CAR, 101 YDS, 2 TD, 4.2 YPG) don’t look nearly as good.

I get it’s not a good look harping on the team this much after a 19 point victory, but it really wasn’t good enough. Wilson powered this win for New England by throwing four interceptions. The Patriots probably won’t intercept four passes in a single game for the rest of the season.

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The New England Patriots performance was good enough to beat the lowly Jets this afternoon by a good margin. It won’t be good enough to beat some of the better teams on their schedule later this season. It’s always nice to get back in the win column, but this wasn’t the dominant victory it seems to be, and it’s clear the Patriots have some work to do before Week 3 rolls around.